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Twenty people have been killed in a crash involving a stretch limousine taking people to a party in the US state of New York. All 18 people in the limousine died along with two pedestrians in the incident on Saturday afternoon in the town of Schoharie. Witnesses described seeing the SUV-style limousine shoot across a junction and hit another car before ploughing into people in a shop car park. The cause of the crash is unclear. The victims have not yet been officially named but the New York Times reports that they include four sisters and at least two pairs of newlyweds. All those killed were adults. It is America’s deadliest transport crash since 2009, said the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Robert Sumwalt.

Early reports suggested the car had been taking the group to a wedding reception but later reports said they were travelling to a birthday party.

State police said on Sunday that the passengers in the limousine, described as a 2001 Ford Excursion, would not have been required to wear seatbelts.

The driver was also killed in the crash, they said.

A reporter for local news site Spectrum News, Mercedes Williams, tweeted images and footage from the scene of the incident, which took place near a store and cafe on routes 30 and 30A in Schoharie County.

The images show a long line of emergency services vehicles lining the roads, which were closed to traffic.

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