A Canadian passenger train collided with a 114-car freight train yesterday in remote western Alberta, and a Via Rail spokesman said 30 to 40 persons were killed. An ambulance company reported 80 of the estimated 120 passengers were injured.
The accident occurred at 8:40 a.m. local time (10:40 a.m. EST) 10 miles east of Hinton, a pulp-mill town on the main Canadian National railroad line, said Bill Dewan, a spokesman for the principal cross-country freight line. The freight train, with three diesel locomotives in addition to its cars, was westbound, he said, and the nine-car passenger train was heading east from Vancouver to Montreal.
Witnesses said 30 cars were strewn about and piled on top of each other in a 100-by-50-yard mass of smoldering, twisted steel along a flat stretch in thick forest country. Smoke curled from the wreckage and piles of yellow sulfur from the freight train were scattered along the tracks, The Associated Press reported.
The accident occurred near Jasper National Park, on the border between Alberta and British Colombia, 175 miles west of Edmonton, the provincial capital.
"We have . . . received word that there are between 30 and 40 deaths," said Frederick Jennings, spokesman for Via Rail, the Canadian passenger service, in a radio interview from Montreal.
The estimated number of dead would place the crash among the worst in Canadian history. The cause of the collision was not immediately known.