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August 29, 2010

Arizona state officials say bad weather and driver carelessness resulted in multiple crashes involving 69 vehicles over a 2.5-mile stretch of interstate in Phoenix.

A sudden monsoon about 6:30 pm on Saturday surprised motorists on Interstate 10 near downtown Phoenix.

"The storm hit hard, hit fast and caught a lot of drivers by surprise," Bob Bailey, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesperson, told CBS News. "The collisions began in the far right side of the roadway near the 7th Street exit ramp and this thing kind of perpetuated itself, enveloping the whole roadway."

He also blamed the mass of collisions on drivers traveling too fast and not leaving enough distance between vehicles.

Paramedics treated between 30 and 40 injured people at the scene and transported seven others to the hospital.

The accidents closed the highway for 3.5 hours while police cleared the scene.

The Associated Press reports that tow trucks had to tow at least half of the accident vehicles away.

Some motorists remained at the scene for hours while the city arranged transportation to get them home. Officials provided air-conditioned city buses to accommodate the people during the wait and handed out snacks and water.

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