Driver arrested after truck hits farm worker bus, killing eight and injuring 40 in Florida

The driver of a pickup truck that hit a farm worker bus and killed eight people has been arrested on a charge of driving under the influence.

Another eight were critically injured after the bus overturned on a Florida highway, and in all 40 people were taken to hospital.

It was transporting 53 workers when it collided with the pickup truck in Marion County, north of Orlando, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) said.

The bus then swerved off State Road 40 - a hilly two-lane road that goes through farms - and crashed through a fence, before overturning, authorities said.

The incident took place at 6.35am local time on Tuesday.

The driver of the truck was also taken to hospital and more than 30 ambulances attended the scene, NBC News added.

Lieutenant Pat Riordan, from the FHP, told reporters some of those injured are "in very serious condition" and there's a "high probability" the number of dead could rise.

"At this point, we are conducting a massive traffic homicide investigation," he said.

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Torrential rain and thunderstorms have hit some US regions in recent days - including Marion County - and authorities will be investigating if the weather contributed to the collision.

Photographs from the scene show the bus on its side, with both its rear emergency door and top hatch open.

The farm workers were being transported to Cannon Farms in Dunnellon, where watermelon harvesting has been taking place.

Following the crash, a post on the farm's social media account said it will "be closed today out of respect to the losses and injuries endured early this morning".

"Please pray with us for the families and the loved ones involved in this tragic accident," the post continued. "We appreciate your understanding at this difficult time."

Cannon Farms is a family-owned business that has been operational for more than 100 years, according to its website.

They now focus on peanuts and watermelons, which they supply to grocery stores across the US and Canada.

The vehicle transporting the workers was a 2010 International Bus and the pickup truck was a 2001 Ford Ranger, authorities said.