Montreal (AFP) – Canada was mourning hockey after a bus carrying a junior ice hockey team collided with a semi-trailer truck in the province of Saskatchewan, killing 14 people.
In a country where love sport is almost a religion, the shock caused a torrent of pain between players and fans in social networks, while national political leaders expressed their sympathies.
"Now we can confirm that 14 people died as a result of this collision." The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement that it was not specified how many of the victims were players or coaches of the Humboldt Broncos team.
Of the total of 28 people on the team bus, including the driver, 14 were taken to hospital with injuries.
"Three of these people have injuries that are critical in nature," the RCMP said.
They did not give information on the status of the driver of the truck.
The accident took place around 5:00 p.m. (2300 GMT) Friday on Highway 35 abou t 28 km (18 miles) north of the city of Tisdale, a shopping mall in an overwhelmingly agricultural region of the province western.
The team was heading north for a Saskatchewan playoff game against the Nipawin Hawks.
The police applied for an indication of the accident for the police special investigators, even though the scene is approximately 150 miles away from Prince Albert City.
The Saskatchewan League is a feeder system for higher levels of hockey, with many graduating to play at US universities. UU and Canada and at the senior level of the youth league, while some go to the National Hockey League.
Similar leagues operate throughout the country, their buses are a regular feature of the country's roads.
"It is a significant accident, we had a tractor truck and a bus colliding," RCMP Inspector Ted Monro told a news conference, refusing to give details about the victims.
The STARS air ambulance service said two of its helicopters flew to the scene.
There were a "large volume of traumatic incoming cases" at Royal University Hospital and St. Paul's Hospital, the Health Authority of Saskatchewan said on Twitter.
Both hospitals are located in the city of Saskatoon, about 250 kilometers from the accident site.
The families of the victims were directed to the Apostolic Church of Nipawin for information and support.
– & # 39; Devastated & # 39; –
The Saskatoon Star Phoenix newspaper published on its website a photo of a player who survived, Derek Patter, who was lying next to two other players injured in hospital beds, holding each other's hands. One of the young men seemed to wear a collar.
"I can not imagine what these parents are going through, and my heart goes out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy, in the community of Humboldt and beyond," tweeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"Our Broncos family is in shock as we try to cope with our incredible loss," said Broncos team president Kevin Garinger. a declaration.
The team consists of 24 players, all from Canada, with the child under 16 and the over 21 years old.
"It's a horrible accident, my God," Darren Opp, president of the Nipawin Hawks hockey team, told the Globe and Mail. "It's very, very bad.
" There are uncles and moms and dads waiting to hear if your children and nephews are fine. "
In a statement, Hockey Canada said it was" devastated "by the news.
– & # 39; My heart is in Humboldt & # 39; –
" Our Hockey community is a very close family. We will unite in mutual support in the coming days, as we mourn the lost lives, remember the wounded and support those whose lives have changed forever in this tragedy. "
Fans and players shared messages of condolences using the hashtag #PrayforHumboldt.
"All my career I've wanted every bus trip," Steven Oleksy of the National Hockey League of the Anaheim Ducks tweeted.
"It's a place where players can forget what It happens on ice. 2night my heart is in Humboldt "
An online fundraising page created by a woman included in social media as a resident of Humboldt raised almost CAN $ 40,000 (US $ 31,000) in a matter of hours.
collision brought back memories of a single-vehicle crash in December 1986, also in Saskatchewan, which killed four members of the Western Hockey League Swift Current Broncos.
The Swift Current Broncos also shared their condolences.
" Humboldt Broncos weighs heavily in our hearts and minds tonight, "the team said on Twitter.