At least 15 people died in a crash along the Trans-Canada Highway near Carberry, Manitoba, Thursday afternoon after a bus carrying 25 people, mostly elderly, collided with a semi-truck, police said.
The crash turned a mile of the highway, which runs east-west and connects the country’s provinces, into what the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Manitoba called a « collision of mass casualties » scene.
It was not immediately clear what caused the clash, which took place around noon local time. Most of the victims were elderly people, a police official said. Ten people were hospitalized with injuries. Authorities did not immediately release the names of the victims.
Rob Hill, assistant commissioner and commander of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Manitoba, told a news conference on Thursday afternoon: “To all those waiting, I can’t imagine how hard it is not to know if the one you love most will be coming home. this evening. I’m so sorry that we can’t give you the definitive answers you need as quickly.
Police said the bus came from Dauphin, another town two hours north of Carberry. After the southbound bus cleared the westbound lanes at an intersection, it was struck by the semi-trailer, which was heading east.
Both drivers were being treated for injuries at a hospital, police said.
Officers were still working at the crash site in the late afternoon and are considering whether to bring a criminal charge, Rob Lasson, a superintendent with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told the news conference.
After the incident, all available local Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers were deployed to the area. Four emergency aircraft, including two helicopters from Winnipeg and Regina, Saskatchewan, flew to the scene and 14 critical care crew members from STARS, a non-profit air ambulance organization, responded, Blake Robert said , spokesperson for STARS, in an email.
Local hospitals have activated a “code orangealert, a triage layer to accommodate different patients by increasing staffing and resources, such as surgical and critical care teams.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the incident « incredibly tragic » in a Twitter post. He also said, « I can’t imagine the pain those affected are in, but Canadians are here for you. »
Heather Stefanson, premier of Manitoba, said in a declaration: « Our hearts are broken and our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of all lives affected by the horrific and devastating tragedy near the town of Carberry. »
Carberry, nicknamed « King Spud Country » for its quality potato crops, is located about two hours west of Winnipeg, the provincial capital, and has a population of fewer than 2,000.
Thursday’s incident echoed another in rural Saskatchewan five years ago, when a bus carrying youth hockey players on the Humboldt Broncos team was hit by a freight truck on an isolated highway. Sixteen people died and 13 others were injured.
Mr. Lasson said police had called their counterparts in Saskatchewan, who had been investigating Humboldt’s crash, to assist with the latest incident.
« We have to get going now, thinking about what families need, what investigators need, » he said. « But that doesn’t mean we don’t feel the pain with you. »