Ottawa, Canada: Train Collides With Bus, 6 Dead, 10 Critically Injured (+Photos)
A Via Rail train and a bus collided in Ottawa, Canada, near Fallowfield Station on Wednesday morning. Officials announced at a press conference that the driver and four bus passengers died on the scene, and 31 were brought to hospital with injuries. One of those people died at hospital, bringing the total to six fatalities with 10 in critical condition. None of the train passengers were injured.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson updated the press and the public from City Hall just before noon, calling for all city flags to be lowered to half-mast.
Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said he is concentrating on maintaining the integrity of the scene. The train has a black box, but it is not yet clear whether the bus has a similar device to provide evidence of what went wrong.
Gregory Mech was onboard the double-decker bus, on the top level. He told CBC that people were yelling out for the bus to stop. He said the bus hit the train, rather than the train hitting the bus. He said the barriers were down and the lights were flashing at the train crossing, but the bus did not stop. Other witnesses have also said the barriers were down.
The speed limit at the crossing is 10 mph (16 kilometers per hour), and buses are required to stop at the crossing.
A left-to-right shaking after the initial collision caused some people to hit their heads on the windows, Mech said. He could see bodies on the train track.
The bus was No. 76, said John Manconi of the transportation agency. The train was No. 51 en route to Toronto.
The building of a separation had been considered at the crossing in the past, but the plan was scrapped because the ground was unsuitable, officials confirmed at the press conference. They said the crossing was nonetheless considered safe.
David Hugill was onboard the train, which derailed. “It’s horrible,” he told CBC. “We’re fragile little creatures.” He said it didn’t feel that dramatic from on the train, but some passengers on the other side of the train could see the bus and the realization began to set in that it could be quite serious.
He said he heard a “click sound, a rumble,” and then they were off the track.
Loved ones can go to the Nepean Sportsplex to reunite with passengers, the city has said. They can also call the distress center at 613-722-6914 or 866-996-0991 or the city at 3-1-1.
Woodroffe Avenue is closed from Fallowfield Road to Slack Road due to the collision. Trains on the Ottawa-Toronto route are cancelled. Alternative arrangements are being made, tweeted Via Rail, saying details will follow.
The premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, along with other officials have expressed their condolences (see below).
This story is developing; check back for updates.
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