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1:55 a.m. update: Highway 5 is now open after the route was closed due to a bus crash, 30 km south of Merritt, Thursday afternoon.
UPDATE 9:55 P.M.
At this time, Interior Health has received 43 patients from today’s bus accident on the Coquihalla Highway, south of Merritt.
Of those, 10 were sent to Royal Inland Hospital (RIH) in Kamloops, 22 to Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) in Kelowna, and 11 to the Nicola Valley Hospital & Health Centre in Merritt.
Of the patients received in IH hospitals, patient conditions are as follows:
- five are in critical condition
- ten are in serious condition
- 28 have non-life threatening injuries
All three Interior Health hospitals initiated a Code Orange response to this situation. Through the Code Orange response the facilities brought in additional staff and physicians to support patient care.
The next update will be issued at approximately 10 a.m. Friday, August 29.
UPDATE 7:30 P.M.
The bus has been identified as an Asian tour bus headed to Vancouver. The tour company has been identified as Super Vacation which has an office in Richmond.
All 56 passengers on board the bus suffered varying degrees of injury. Six of those are in critical condition and have been airlifted to hospital.
UPDATE 4:55 P.M.
Both Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops and Kelowna General in Kelowna are on Code Orange which means a disaster or massive casualty incident..
According to Interior Health, Royal Inland is preparing for 40 patients while KGH is expecting up to 20.
UPDATE 4 P.M.
Six people are in need of immediate medical attention after a tour bus carrying Asian passengers rolled over on the Coquihalla Highway, 30km south of Merritt.
The incident occurred shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday.
According to Sgt. Norm Fleming with the Merritt RCMP, 56 people were on board the bus heading from the Okanagan to Vancouver.
"There were 35 that have suffered a minor level of injury, basically, ambulatory, non emergency...15 of them have what would be considered a more major injury, compound fractures and serious broken bones.
Six are being considered as a Code Red requiring an immediate air lift to a hospital for emergency services. Nobody is at this point a fatality."
Fleming says he does not have information as to where those needing more urgent care are being taken.
BC Ambulance has dispatched numerous people to the scene.
"We have sent six helicopters and 19 ground ambulances to the scene,” says Kelsie Carwithen, BC Emergency Health Services spokesperson. “We are currently on the scene and accessing the situation.”
The entire highway has been shut down for the time being.
Fleming says the northbound lanes are being used as staging for air ambulances and should be open soon.
The southbound lanes are expected to remain closed for some time. Traffic is being rerouted to either highway 1 or 8 at Merritt.
At this point there is not an estimated time of opening.
UPDATE 3:25 P.M.
The Coquihalla Highway is closed southbound at Merritt due to a tour bus accident 30km south of the city. According to DriveBC, detours are available via Highways 1 and 8. No estimated time of re-opening is not available at this time.
Details of the crash involving the tour bus are still sketchy.
It is believed the bus did flip over and catch fire.
Sgt. Norm Fleming with the Merritt RCMP Detachment says he does not know how many passengers were on board, how many were injured or the seriousness of those injuries.
Fleming says he believes triage will be performed on the injured passengers at the scene.
Patients would then be sent to hospital either by ground ambulance or air.
A witness of the accident tells Castanet that it appears multiple people are injured and there is visible blood on the side of the bus.
We will have more details when they become available.
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There are reports of a possible crash involving a tour bus on the Coquihalla Highway south of Merritt.
This has been confirmed by Merritt Fire Rescue, who say that one of their rescue trucks and five members are headed to the scene.
It's believed the crash happened about 20 kilometres south of the town.
Multiple ambulances are also believed to be en route.
No further details are available at this time.