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Twenty People Killed In Horror New York Limousine Crash

A limousine on its way to a birthday party has blown through a stop sign and ploughed into a 4WD, killing all 18 people in the limo and two pedestrians in the deadliest US transportation accident in almost a decade.

A newlywed couple and the parents of two young daughters were among those killed.

Family have identified Erin McGowan, 34, and her husband Shane McGowan, 30, as two of the victims. They only just got married in June.

Adam and Abby Jackson, parents to four-year-old Archer and 16-month-old Abby, were also killed, as were Axel Steenburg, 29, his wife Amy, and his 34-year-old brother Rich Steenburg.

Witnesses reported bodies on the ground and broken tree limbs everywhere.

An aunt of one of the victims in the vehicle said the group had been on the way to a birthday celebration.

The 2001 Ford Excursion limousine was travelling southwest on Route 30 in Schoharie, about 270km north of New York City around 2pm when it failed to stop at a T-junction with state Route 30A, State Police First Deputy Superintendent Christopher Fiore said at a news conference.

It veered across the road and hit an unoccupied vehicle, killing the driver and 17 passengers, as well as two people outside of the vehicle.

The crash "sounded like an explosion," said Linda Riley, of nearby Schenectady, who was on a shopping trip with her sisters and had been in their parked car at the time at the store.

When she got out of her vehicle, she saw a body on the ground, she said. People started screaming. Authorities didn't release names of victims or other specifics, but state police set up a hotline for family members.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, said its chairman, Robert Sumwalt.

"This is one of the biggest losses of life that we've seen in a long, long time," he said

It is the deadliest since February 2009 when Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed in Buffalo, New York, killing 50 people.

There was no information on Sunday on the limousine or its integrity.

But safety issues on such vehicles have arisen before, most notably after a wreck on Long Island in July 2015 in which four women on a winery tour were killed.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement saying, "My heart breaks for the 20 people who lost their lives in this horrific accident on Saturday in Schoharie.

I commend the first responders who arrived on the scene and worked through the night to help.

State police are working with federal and local authorities to investigate the crash, and I have directed state agencies to provide every resource necessary to aid in this investigation and determine what led to this tragedy."

AAP

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