Six people are confirmed dead following a horrific early-morning crash between a Via Rail train and a double-decker city bus in Ottawa?s west end.
The bus driver and four passengers died on site and one more person died in hospital, city officials said at a news conference later on Wednesday.
The accident took place at about 8:50 a.m., during morning rush hour, near Woodroffe Ave. and Fallowfield Rd. The front of end of the bus was severely damaged and the train derailed following the collision.
Emergency responders arrived on the scene shortly after the accident and 31 people were taken to hospital for treatment, with 11 in critical condition, according to city officials. Three others left the scene with minor injuries and took themselves to area hospitals.
CBC News has identified the bus? driver as Dave Woodard.
According to Via Rail, there were?no injuries?to passengers and crew on the train, which included a locomotive and four passenger cars.
Witnesses say the bus failed to slow down as it approached the railway crossing, with passengers on board screaming ?stop? before the double-decker slammed into the oncoming train.
Tanner Trepaniere, a student who was on board the bus, said passengers could see the train bearing down on them as the vehicle proceeded towards a level crossing.
?People started screaming, ?Stop, stop!? because they could see the train coming down the track,? said Trepaniere, who was sitting in the upper level of the bus.
For reasons that remain unclear, the bus lumbered through the crossing and collided with the westbound train, shearing off the vehicle?s entire front end.
People are helped following a Via Rail train and a city bus collision in Ottawa?s west end Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. (CP/Terry Pedwell)
?There was a lot of screaming, but then people were actually relatively calm, considering the situation,? Trepaniere said of the aftermath.
Parts of the stairway leading to the upper deck of the bus were torn away on impact, but most people still managed to scramble down and off the vehicle, Trepaniere said. Some injured, though, were unable to move.
Pascal Lolgis, who witnessed the crash, said the bus appeared to drive through a lowered crossing barrier.
?Boom! It went into the train like that,? Lolgis 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.?
The scene following a Via Rail train and city bus collision in Ottawa?s west end Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. (CP/Adrian Wyld)
Another witness who was on the top level of the double-decker also reports that it was the bus that ran into the moving train.
Robert Kurtenbach?told the Ottawa Citizen?the bus ?didn?t appear to slow down? and slammed into the train.
Darryl Praill, who was on a bus immediately behind the one struck, said he he did not witness the actual collision but described the grim scene afterward on Twitter.
The City of Ottawa?says?its Emergency Operations Centre had been activated following the crash.
Traffic on Woodroffe Ave. has been shut down and the Via Rail line between Ottawa and Toronto is cancelled for the time being, replaced by?chartered bus service?for the rest of the day.
Speaking at a late-morning news conference, city officials refused to speculate about the driver?s conduct until a full investigation was carried out, led by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. The federal agency has assigned about a dozen investigators to the Ottawa crash.
The prime minister has extended his condolences to those effected.
?On behalf of all Canadians, Laureen and I extend our thoughts and prayers to all those affected by this tragedy,? said Stephen Harper in a statement.
With files from the Canadian Press