Three people died and 18 others were injured Saturday when a bus rolled over several times on southbound Interstate 15 south of state Route 76 in Pala Mesa, the North County Fire Protection District said.

One unidentified person was found dead inside the bus. Another person inside the bus was pulled to safety, Capt. John Choi of the NCFPD said.

The accident happened at about 10:30 a.m. and crews from the CHP, Camp Pendleton, CalFire, Pala Mesa, Vista and Oceanside arrived on the scene to aid in helping the injured victims who were ejected in the crash, Choi said.

Details about the bus, where it was coming from and its destination were not immediately released.

Rescue crews found the bus on its roof and in danger of sliding down an embankment, Choi said. Crews had to stabilize the bus before they could rescue anybody trapped inside.

Three fire engine rescue crews were able to get inside the bus, where they found one person who had died and one injured victim, he said.

Eighteen injured victims in various conditions were transported to several hospitals around the county, Choi said. The bus had no seat belts, he said.

Traffic on I-15 was halted and there was gridlock in the area, the CHP reported. Authorities urged travelers to avoid the area.

Traffic was expected to be shut down for at least two hours while authorities investigate the accident, Choi said.

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