Race car in Sri Lanka veers off track; 7 dead, 20 injured

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- A race car veered off the track during a competition in Sri Lanka on Sunday and rammed into a crowd of spectators and race officials, killing seven people and injuring 20 others, officials said.

Thousands of spectators looked on as the mishap took place during a race in the town of Diyatalawa in the tea-growing central hills, about 180 kilometers (110 miles) east of the capital Colombo.

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the mishap.

One of the cars veered off the track and crashed into spectators and officials of the event, police spokesman Nihal Thalduwa said. Four officials were among the seven people killed and the 20 people hurt were being treated at a hospital. Three of the injured were in critical condition, Thalduwa said.

Police have launched an investigation into the accident. The race, which was the 17th out of 24 events scheduled, was suspended after the accident.

About 45,000 spectators had gathered at the race circuit at a Sri Lankan military academy. The event was organized by the Sri Lankan army and Sri Lanka Automobile Sports.