By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A tour bus ferrying passengers to a California casino skidded and flipped onto its side on a freeway outside Los Angeles on Thursday, injuring about 50 people who were thrown around inside the vehicle, authorities said.
No one died in the accident, said Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman Captain Brian Jordan.
The crash left the bus, operated by Da Zhen Bus company, on its side on a dirt embankment next to the eastbound lanes of the Foothill Freeway in Irwindale, less than 20 miles east of Los Angeles. Traffic along the freeway at one point was snarled for six miles , said California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Saul Gomez.
The tour bus was carrying Chinese-speaking passengers, apparently residents of greater Los Angeles, who were traveling to a local Indian casino, Gomez said.
A total of 55 people were hurt in the crash, including about 50 on board the bus and a few people in two other vehicles struck by the bus, Gomez said. Most were transported to local hospitals but some were treated at scene, he said.
Five patients needing immediate care were airlifted to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and their conditions were guarded but stable with none in surgery, Dr. Leo Rodriguez, who was caring for patients from the crash, told reporters outside the hospital.
They had suffered "blunt force trauma from a rollover bus accident," he said.
The passengers aboard the bus were 50 years and older, Rodriguez said.
Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena received the other three most seriously injured patients - an 86-year-old man with rib fractures and two women in their 70s, said hospital spokesman Kevin Andrus. None of their injuries were life-threatening, he said.
The bus went into a "lockwheel skid" before it turned over and ended up on its side next to the freeway, Gomez said. The cause of the crash is under investigation, he said.
A representative from Da Zhen Bus declined to comment.
(Reporting and writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Steve Gorman, Bernard Orr)