The crash in heavy snow in the northwest corner of the state, not far from Lake Michigan, involved at least 15 tractor-trailers and an undetermined number of other vehicles, Indiana State Police said. Eastbound lanes of I-94 were shut down until further notice and traffic was being detoured.
The Northwest Indiana Times reported police blamed whiteout conditions for multiple crashes on I-94 including the fatal crash. Eastbound traffic was backed up for miles and westbound traffic was moving at a crawl, WLS-TV, Chicago, reported.
La Porte County Coroner John Sullivan said teams of coroners from nearby jurisdictions were being sent to the scene. Heavy equipment was summoned to the scene to help untangle wreckage and aid the search for people who may be trapped in vehicles, WLS reported.
Sullivan said he expected the death toll to go higher. It was unclear how many cars were crushed beneath the semis.
WLS-AM, Chicago, reported at least 20 people were injured.
Buses have been sent to the scene to provide warmth and shelter for those involved in the crash.