Rescuers raced to drag survivors from the wreckage as mangled trucks and cars lay piled up on top of each other.
Officials said the Thanksgiving holiday carnage started with one crash on Interstate 10 80 miles east of Houston. That set off a chain reaction behind, followed immediately by multiple pile-ups on the opposite highway.
The two people killed were in a utility vehicle crushed by a lorry. Deputy Sheriff Rod Carroll said up to 90 victims — about 12 serious or critical — were taken to hospital. He described the scene as “catastrophic” but praised travellers for helping the injured.
The eastbound lanes re-opened after more than eight hours.