updated 2/21/2006 3:45:38 PM ET 2006-02-21T20:45:38

A pickup truck carrying 19 illegal immigrants from Mexico crashed on a rural highway after a rear wheel came off, killing three people and injuring 16, authorities said.

The pickup flipped over and landed in a ditch, said Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Ron Knoefel.

Nine people were riding in the truck’s extended cab — four on the front seat, four in the back seat, and one on the floor between the seats, Knoefel said. He said the 10 others were in the truck’s bed, which was covered with a camper shell.

At least one of the injured was reported in critical condition.

It was not immediately clear where the truck was going.

Several meatpacking plants that have drawn a large Hispanic population to this part of Kansas are in the area.

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