Montreal: At least 100 people were injured in a multi-vehicle pileup on an icy, snow-covered highway in the western Canadian province of Alberta on Thursday, local health officials said.
Buses, big-rig trucks, all-terrain vehicles, tow trucks and scores of cars all got caught up in the accident on a highway just south of the city of Edmonton.
Fresh snow covering the icy highway tricked drivers into believing that there was reasonable traction. A heavy snowfall that created blinding white-out conditions made driving conditions even more dangerous.
Some 100 vehicles were involved in the giant accident, several of them pushed into the ditches flanking the road, officials said.
Alberta Health Services initially reported that 300 people had been injured, but later lowered that figure to 100 with minor to moderate injuries, and one critically injured. Twenty-two people required hospitalization. Around 80 were treated on the scene and released.
The blizzard caused some 130 other vehicle accidents across Alberta, police said. Three people were killed in one of the accidents.
News outlets showed images of an 18-wheeler flipped on its side with a smaller, damaged truck leaning against it and next to it a van whose hood was crushed like an accordeon.
The road was closed down for two hours in both directions as officials scrambled to send buses to evacuate the victims. Those wounded were treated in dozens of area hospitals.
One driver, Alison Veldkamp, spent 4.5 hours with her husband stuck inside her car trapped in the pileup.
“We shuttle on the highway quite often... but have never seen anything like this,” she told CBC News. “It was definitely scary.”
The cause of the accident was not known but Veldkamp suggested it might simply have been a car that braked suddenly.