Ottawa, April 8 (IANS) Canada has been plunged into “shock and mourning” after 15 people were killed and 14 other injured in a “nightmare” collision between a bus carrying a junior hockey team and a semi-trailer, the media reported on Sunday.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said 29 people, including the driver, were on the Humboldt Broncos team bus when the accident occurred on Friday afternoon on a rural highway, some 200 km north-east of Saskatoon in the province of Saskatchewan, reports the Guardian.
The team had been heading to a Saskatchewan junior hockey league playoff game against the Nipawin Hawks, officials said.
The police are yet to release the names of the victims and determine the cause of the accident.
Images from the accident site suggested the force of the crash had torn the bus in two, leaving debris scattered in the snow-covered fields that line the highway.
The semi-trailer sat nearby, overturned.
The crash has shocked “hockey-crazed Canada”, where sports teams often travel hours in gruelling winter conditions.
Within hours of the launch of a fundraising campaign to help those affected by the accident, it had raised more than Canadian $2.4 million, far exceeding its initial target of Canadian$10,000.
The International Ice Hockey Federation said a moment of silence would be observed during upcoming games between Poland and Estonia as well as Latvia and Kazakhstan.
In the National Hockey League, the Calgary Flames put up a Broncos team photo in their locker room while the the Philadelphia Flyers held a moment of silence before their game against the New York Rangers, the Guardian reported.
On Saturday, the Broncos’ home arena in Humboldt became an impromptu crisis centre, bringing together mourners, fans and locals who knew the team’s coaches and players, who hail from across western Canada and range in age from 16 to 21 years.
The stairs of the rink were turned into a makeshift memorial. Flowers were placed alongside railings wrapped in the team’s colours of yellow and green.