BURLINGTON, ONTARIO CANADA ( courtesy CTV.ca ) Three locomotive engineers were killed and dozens of passengers were injured when a Via Rail train derailed in Burlington, Ont. Sunday afternoon.
Among those killed was an engineer in training, Via Rail officials said. More than 40 passengers were taken to area hospitals with various injuries, many of them minor. Three people had to be airlifted to Toronto and London with serious injuries.
The derailment occurred around 3:30 p.m. in an industrial area near Aldershot station, about 60 kilometres west of Toronto. Via Rail train 92 was travelling eastbound from Niagara Falls to Toronto with 75 passengers and four crew members on board.
One of the six derailed train cars crashed into a small building near the train tracks, flipping on its side.
About 60 passengers were initially trapped in the wreckage, as hundreds of first responders worked frantically to free them.
Witnesses described a chaotic scene resembling a "war zone" as passengers scrambled to get to safety.
By 6:30 p.m., everyone was out of the train and all passengers had received some type of medical attention, Via Rail spokesperson Michelle Lamarche said.
She did not disclose any information about the dead engineers who were riding in the locomotive at the time of the crash. One crew member survived and was taken to a nearby hospital with unknown injuries.
"It's very tragic," Via Rail Chief Operating Officer John Marginson told reporters Sunday night. "We are a small company…and we know everyone by name."
Some passengers who emerged from the crash unscathed told reporters they were trying to hang on to anything in sight as the train jumped off the tracks, causing people to fall on top of each other.
At least one child was among the injured, but did not sustain serious wounds, hospital officials in Hamilton said.
Marginson said one person suffered a heart attack during the crash.
For a while, Hamilton General Hospital was operating under code orange, which signals an external disaster.
About 30 passengers were well enough to board a bus to Toronto's Union Station and leave the chaotic scene, Lamarche said.
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Here is a release as posted on the VIA Rail website:
Reports of numerous passenger injuries
Three crew fatalities
Montreal – VIA Rail Canada train number 92, en route from Niagara Falls to Toronto, was involved in an accident at approximately 3:30pm local time today. The incident occurred in the Aldershot, Ontario area.
There were 75 passengers on board the train at the time of the accident. There are reports of several injuries to passengers and three fatalities, all VIA crew members who were in the locomotive at the time of the accident.
There were one locomotive and five cars on the train, all of which derailed. Emergency services were on the scene shortly after it occurred and are attending to those requiring their assistance.
Three passengers were airlifted to hospital with serious injuries. 42 other passengers and one crew members were also taken to local hospitals.
All other passengers have been removed from the train and are either en route to Toronto or will be shortly.
The cause of the accident is not known at this time. VIA will collaborate fully with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, which is investigating.
Anyone seeking information about passengers who may have been on this train may call a special number set up for this purpose, at 1-888-842-6141
Other VIA trains will be affected due to the tracks being blocked at the scene of the accident. Passengers travelling in southwestern Ontario later today can check on the status of their train at 1-888-VIA-RAIL (888-842-7245) or at viarail.ca.
Further details will be provided as they are known.