By Tim Ghianni
NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct 2 (Reuters) - Several people were killed Wednesday afternoon in a three vehicle crash on Interstate 40 in eastern Tennessee that included a bus, a semi-tractor trailer truck and a passenger vehicle, the Tennessee Highway Patrol said.
"There are multiple fatalities and injuries at this time," highway patrol spokeswoman Dalya Qualls said. "I cannot confirm the number."
Knoxville television station WVLT-TV reported that six people had been killed in the crash, which forced the closure of I-40 in both directions near its connection with Interstate 81 about 40 miles east of Knoxville.
Qualls said a preliminary investigation indicates that the bus was traveling east on I-40 "and for an unknown reason, traveled across the median and struck a tractor-trailer and passenger vehicle traveling westbound."
The truck caught fire and the bus overturned in the crash, the highway patrol said.
Traffic is being diverted in both directions and the roadway is expected to remain closed until late Wednesday night, the highway patrol said. (Reporting by Tim Ghianni; Editing by David Bailey and Diane Craft)