Long Island Tanker Truck Crash and Explosion

(North Babylon -WABC, June 10, 2005) -- If you use the Sunrise Highway to get in and out of Long Island, it's not a good day for you. Both sides are shut down, as crews clean up after a deadly pile-up involving a tanker truck, and several other vehicles.

It happened just after 9:00 a.m., at the intersection of Route 231 in North Babylon. Police say the tanker collided with a dump truck and a car. A fire was sparked from the leaking tanker, which sent flames some 50 feet skyward.

Long Island reporter Lauren Defranco is at the scene with the latest.

What a morning. We're overlooking Sunrise Highway. We're told the scene was intense and dramatic this morning as motorists tried to run from the flames. Authorities tell me at least three people are dead, and there is concern others could be trapped in the wreckage.

Police say there was a series of explosions after the crash, but that the fuel being hauled in the truck did not ignite. Authorities secured a quarter mile area around the accident scene and are monitoring storm drains for spilling oil.

Mystic Tank Lines, Inc. of Astoria Queens says the truck was theirs, and carried about 10,000 gallons of Number Two heating oil. The truck was moving its cargo from one terminal to another when the accident happened.

Sunrise Highway is a major east-west artery across Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The accident happened near exit 40. The best alternates around the accident scene would be the Southern State Parkway to the north (passenger cars only) and Montauk Highway (route 27A) which runs to the south of Sunrise Highway.

The truck that crashed is one of a fleet of 300 for the Mystic company. Its web site notes its attention to on-the-road safety.

The exact cause of the accident was still under investigation Friday afternoon.