Two Canadians killed in Swiss bus crash

Two Canadians killed in Swiss bus crash

At least two Canadians have been killed and more than two dozen injured after a tour bus drove off the road and crashed in Switzerland.

The German-registered bus, carrying 48 tourists from Ontario, came to rest on its side in a field in the western Valais region, not far from the capital of Bern, at 10 a.m. local time.

Swiss officials said that 28 people were treated after the crash. Five helicopters were called in to help transport those with the most serious wounds. By Saturday afternoon, nine people were still in hospital with moderate injuries. Earlier reports suggested that one of the Canadians was critically hurt.

Uninjured passengers were transported to a hotel where they received psychological counseling.

“It was in the middle of the Alps on a narrow road when the accident happened,” Pierre-Martin Moulin, a Valais police spokesperson, told CTV News Channel.

“We don’t know exactly the reason why at the moment. An investigation is being led by the courts and we will find out in the coming hours or coming days more details about it.”

“We need to talk to the driver who was luckily not injured,” he added.

The driver is a 73-year-old German man. Officials provided little information about the victims.

But Bishop Paul Andre Durocher, who knows several of the people who were on board the bus, told CTV News Channel by phone from Cornwall, Ont., that the group intended to take in a local religious play that’s held every 10 years.

The trip was organized by a Cornwall-based company called Jolly Tours and Travel.

Kimberly Walsh, of Cornwall, said her 69-year-old mother Gail was aboard the bus. She was told that a motorbike may have cut in quickly on the highway, causing the bus driver to swerve.

“At some point, I think fairly close to the Austrian border, my understanding is that a motorcycle cut in front of the bus, and that’s what caused the accident,” Walsh told CTV’s Daniele Hamamdjian by phone.

Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs told that officials have been deployed to the area “to provide consular assistance.”

“The Embassy of Canada in Berne, Switzerland, has been notified and is following up on the matter with local authorities,” Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Friends or relatives of Canadians believed to be involved in the bus crash can call the Emergency Operations Centre 1-800-267-6788 or 613-944-6788.

A Swiss media report says the bus had left the resort of Zermatt in the morning and was headed to Austria.

Local police said driving conditions were good and the patch of road where the accident occurred was straight and dry.

The driver of the bus and the group’s guide were believed to be from Germany.

With files from The Canadian Press