At least 15 people were killed in a crash along the Trans-Canada Highway near Carberry, Manitoba, on Thursday afternoon, after a bus carrying 25 people, mostly older people, collided with a semitruck, the police said.
The crash turned a mile of the highway, which runs from east to west and connects the country’s provinces, into what the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Manitoba called a “mass casualty collision” scene.
It was not immediately clear what caused the collision, which happened around noon local time. Most of the victims were older people, a police official said. Ten people were sent to hospital with injuries. The authorities did not immediately release the names of the victims.
Rob Hill, assistant commissioner and commanding officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Manitoba, said at a news conference on Thursday afternoon: “To all those waiting, I can’t imagine how difficult it is not knowing if the person you love the most will be making it home tonight. I am so sorry we cannot get you the definitive answers you need more quickly.”
The police said that the bus had been traveling 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 semitrailer, which was driving east.
Both drivers were being treated for injuries at a hospital, the police said.
Officers were still working at the crash site late into the afternoon and will be considering whether to bring criminal charges, Rob Lasson, a superintendent with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said at the news conference.
After the crash, all available local officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were deployed to the area. Four emergency aircrafts, including two helicopters from Winnipeg and Regina, in Saskatchewan, flew to the scene, and 14 critical-care crew members from STARS, an air ambulance nonprofit organization, responded, said Blake Robert, a spokesman for STARS, in an email.
Local hospitals activated a “code orange” alert, a triage level to accommodate several patients by increasing staff and resources, such as surgical and critical-care teams.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the crash “incredibly tragic” in a post to Twitter. He also said, “I cannot imagine the pain those affected are feeling — but Canadians are here for you.”
Heather Stefanson, Manitoba’s premier, said in a statement: “Our hearts are broken, and our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of all the lives impacted by the horrific and devastating tragedy near the Town of Carberry.”
Carberry, nicknamed “King Spud Country” for its quality potato crops, is about two hours west of Winnipeg, the provincial capital, and has a population of fewer than 2,000 people.
The crash on Thursday echoed another in rural Saskatchewan five years ago, when a bus carrying young hockey players from the Humboldt Broncos team was struck by a transport truck on a secluded highway. Sixteen people died, and 13 others were injured.
Mr. Lasson said the police had called on their counterparts in Saskatchewan, who had investigated the Humboldt crash, to assist with the latest crash.
“We have to kick into operational gear right away, thinking about what the families need, what the investigators need,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we’re not feeling the pain with you.”