A double-decker bus has crashed into a Via Rail train in Ottawa's west end, killing at least six people and injuring 30.
All the casualties were on board the bus.
City officials said at a morning press conference that five of the victims were killed at the scene, another died at hospital. Paramedics transported 31 people to hospitals, 11 of them with serious injuries. The bus driver was among those killed, CP24 later reported.
"Our focus as a city today is to care for those who lost a loved one and those injured," Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said at the press conference.
Officials would not say what caused the crash but eyewitness accounts indicate that the bus may have driven through the rail crossing at the intersection of Woodroffe Rd. and Fallowfield Ave.
“People started screaming, ‘Stop, stop!’ because they could see the train coming down the track,” Tanner Trepaniere, who was sitting on the top level of the double-decker bus, told the National Post.
"We had bodies and debris pretty much everywhere at the impact site," Ottawa Fire Service's Marc Messier told CTV.
The train was en route from Montreal to Toronto via Ottawa. Via Rail has also said that it is cancelling service between Ottawa and Toronto until further notice.
VIA Operations Update - Due to accident, trains on Ottawa-Toronto route cancelled. Alternative arrangements being made. Details to follow.— VIA_Rail (@VIA_Rail) September 18, 2013
The Ottawa Citizen's Shaamini Yogaretnam posted audio clips from emergency responders early this morning.
"Front end of the bus has significant damage. Multiple patients on the ground… upgrade this to a mass casualty," said the paramedic responding to the crash.
The bus, CBC News reports, was travelling north on the Transitway, and Train 51 en route to Toronto was heading west when the incident happened.
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Pascal Lolgis, who witnessed the crash, told CP the bus seemed to drive through a lowered crossing barrier.
“Boom! It went into the train like that,” he said. “He didn't stop. He must have lost his brakes. Or he had an ... attack or whatever.
“He just didn't stop. He just keep going like that. Then he get hit."
Ottawa police Const. Marc Soucy told reporters police arrived at the OC Transpo transitway on Fallowfield Road at 8:48 a.m.
"It's horrible," David Hugill, a passenger on the train told CBC. "What can I say? It was really undramatic on the train. It certainly didn't feel like it was an incident of that magnitude from where we were sitting.
"No one really had a sense of what was happening."
According to CP24, the passenger train derailed but stayed upright after slamming into the bus, with witnesses telling reporter John Hua they noticed the warning lights flashing at the rail crossing and screamed at the bus driver to stop to avoid a collision.
Speaking to CBC News, bus passenger Gregory Mech described sitting on the top level of the double-decker when he noticed the bus wasn’t slowing down ahead of a rail crossing.
“It just didn’t feel right,” he said. Then he braced for impact.
Another bus passenger Eric Nelson described a "chaotic" scene to the Globe and Mail.
"A lot of people got shaken around in the back, and got injuries just from being shaken around. One guy had a big gash on his knee, and some people got some glass in their eyes. Things like that. For the most part in the back of the bus, it was kind of more manageable injuries – but the front, anyone sitting in the front three rows, there's no way they walked out without major injuries there."
In addition to police and paramedics, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada confirmed that a team investigators is at the collision site.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne also tweeted support shortly after the incident.
Thinking of all families affected by horrible accident in Ottawa. Thanks to first responders on the scene.— Kathleen Wynne (@Kathleen_Wynne) September 18, 2013
Pierre Poilievre, MP for Nepean-Carleton, also weighed in on the tragedy.
"It was with profound sadness that I learned of the tragic accident that took place this morning in Ottawa," he said in a press release. "I offer my deepest condolences to the people whose lives have been affected by this tragedy and the loss of life that has shocked us all. I would also like to wish a speedy recovery to the people injured in this tragic event."
John Baird, MP for Ottawa West-Nepean also issued a press release on the tragedy.
"I have no doubt that today, our city will mourn those we've lost, and support those in need as we move forward as a city, and as a community," he wrote in a press release.
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