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Three people are dead and 46 are injured after a six-car Via Rail train travelling from Niagara to Union Station derailed in an industrial area of Burlington around 3:28 p.m. Sunday.
Via Rail has confirmed that the three killed were employees. All three were locomotive engineers. A fourth crew member suffered minor injuries.
Three of the passengers who were hurt have been airlifted to hospital with severe injuries. One has a broken leg, another suffered a heart attack and the third has a back injury.
The other 42 passengers suffered minor injuries and were either treated on scene or in local hospitals, Via Rail officials told reporters Sunday evening.
Via spokeswoman Michelle Lamarche says 75 passengers were on board the train travelling from Niagara Falls, Ont., to Toronto. There were also four crew members onboard.
Emergency crews worked to pull an estimated 60 passengers who were trapped in the wreckage and three air ambulances were on scene. A Via spokesperson said she now believes all passengers are now off the train.
Aerial pictures from the scene show a train zigzagged off the tracks, with at least four cars flipped onto their sides. One car has slid onto its side and into a nearby building after it left the tracks.
Reports from inside the train scene describe a frantic scene with passengers falling over each other.
Faisal Abid, 21, was seated in the first car when the train derailed and flipped.
“My legs were basically on the windows,” he said.
He said many people were screaming they were hurt, with a little girl about 10 years old behind him who was travelling with her parents asking them if she was going to be an orphan.
“There was blood everywhere,” said Abid.
He said the man behind him went through the window and screaming that he couldn’t breathe.
“It was like a plane crash,” said Deanna Villella, 40, who boarded at St. Catharines. “The cars were completely twisted and on their sides. It was awful.”
Glenn Harris, a neighbour who lives about 200 metres from the crash scene, said he heard “a very loud bang,” that “rattled off the windows.”
Halton police said cars exited the tracks near Plains Rd. and King Rd.
Ambulances remain at the scene of the accident, as well as three of air ambulances.
Crews are in the process of moving damaged equipment off the tracks so that it can be inspected.
A Via spokesperson said they do not know what caused Via train 92 to derail.
“I have no clue,” said Lamarche. “Right now the focus is on the crew and passengers.”
Cheryl Knapp from Ottawa said her brother-in-law and nephew were on the first car coming back from a day trip to Niagara Falls when the train derailed, trapping them on board.
“My brother-in-law thinks he has a broken nose,” said Knapp. “He says there are a lot of injured people behind him.”
Knapp said her brother-in-law and his son have been taken to hospital.
Hamilton General Hospital declared a code orange — meaning it was facing a disaster situation. That has since been lifted.
But at least one air ambulance was sent to Hamilton General with injured patients and the hospital is clearing emergency rooms and operating rooms to prepare for more.
Toronto EMS officials sent an emergency bus to the scene and transported 10 patients with minor injuries to Mississauga General Hospital.
GO Transit says its trains are turning back at Burlington.
Officials are asking passengers who were on the train to contact Halton police so they can be accounted for. The number is 905-825-4747 ext. 2306.
The Transportation Safety Board, Halton police and Via Rail are investigating.
The crash has caused minor damage to nearby buildings.
VIA Rail's statement following the Burlington derailment:
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.