- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

FALLING WATERS, W.Va. (AP) - More than 40 vehicles collided in two separate wrecks in whiteout conditions on Interstate 81 on Wednesday, killing two people and injuring seven others, West Virginia State Police said.

The fatalities occurred in a wreck in the northbound lanes in the Falling Waters area around 8:45 a.m. Seven people were injured in another crash in the southbound lanes, state police spokesman Lt. C.K. Zerkle told The Associated Press.

The identities of the victims have not been released, pending notification of relatives.

Zerkle said a total of 44 vehicles were involved, including several tractor-trailers, and 15 to 20 were seriously damaged. He did not know how many vehicles were involved in each wreck.

The injured were taken by five helicopters to Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg. Hospital spokeswoman Teresa McCabe said in a statement that two patients were admitted in serious condition, one in fair condition, and four others were treated and released.

The northbound lanes remained closed Wednesday afternoon. The West Virginia Department of Transportation said the southbound lanes have reopened.

Motorists were being detoured onto U.S. 11, which runs parallel to the interstate.

Zerkle said travel on the alternate route was slow because of a high volume of traffic.

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