Dozens of people have been transported to hospital following a serious bus crash on a highway in B.C.’s Southern Interior on Christmas Eve.
Officials said the passenger bus crashed on Highway 97C between Merritt and Kelowna on Saturday, prompting a “Code Orange” response in the Interior Health Authority.
Code Oranges are activated after disasters or mass casualty events.
It’s unclear whether anyone was killed, but Interior Health confirmed 53 patients were taken to hospitals in Merritt, Kelowna and Penticton. The health authority could not provide any information on the patients’ conditions.
We are not in a position to provide patient conditions at this time. 1/3
— Interior Health (@Interior_Health) December 25, 2022
“We will make every effort to connect families with patients as soon as possible,” Interior Health wrote on Twitter.
The cause of the crash is unknown, but images from the scene appear to show snow or ice on the highway Saturday night.
Mounties said the accident forced the closure of a stretch of Highway 97C, the Okanagan Connector, in both directions near Merritt.
B.C. Premier David Eby, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Transportation Minister Rob Fleming released a joint statement saying they were “shocked and saddened” to learn of the accident.
“Our thoughts are with those impacted by the crash, their loved ones, and the first responders and health-care workers giving their all to treat people and keep them safe,” the statement said.