UPDATE: Dec. 25, 6 a.m.
An information line has been set up by Interior Health as British Columbians search for details on their loved ones after a bus crash along the Okanagan Connector on Christmas Eve.
Fifty-three people are believed to have been taken to hospital – degree of injuries unknown at this time.
Those needing to know which hospital a patient was taken to can call 250-545-2211.
UPDATE: An information line has been set up for families to locate their loved ones involved in the accident on #Hwy97C Call operator can advise of patient locations for those in our care. Please call 250-545-2211 (operator will answer after the greeting)— Interior Health (@Interior_Health) December 25, 2022
UPDATE: 10:12 p.m.
Interior Health has confirmed that 53 people are receiving care at three hospitals after a bus crash along the Okanagan Connector Saturday night.
Hospitals in Kelowna, Penticton and Merritt are working to triage those injured.
“We are not in a position to provide patient conditions at this time,” a statement from Interior Health reads.
“We will make every effort to connect families with patients as soon as possible.”
It remains unclear the degree of injuries.
In these situations, @Interior_Health activates staff in critical care areas such as the emergency department, medical imaging and surgery to support urgent patients. My deepest gratitude to the first responders and medical teams who responded immediately to the call. 3/3— Adrian Dix (@adriandix) December 25, 2022
UPDATE: 10 p.m.
Premier David Eby, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Transportation Minister Rob Flemming have released a joint statement following Saturday evening’s bus crash near Merritt.
“On this Christmas Eve we are shocked and saddened to hear of the serious bus accident on the Highway 97C Okanagan Connector between Merritt and Kelowna,” the statement reads.
“Our thoughts are with those impacted by the crash, their loved ones, and the first responders and health-care workers giving their all to treat people and keep them safe.”
UPDATE: 9:30 p.m.
The Kelowna General Hospital has declared a Code Orange after a passenger bus crash on the Okanagan Connector near Peachland at approximately 7:15p.m. on Christmas Eve.
The code is called during mass casualties or serious events and sets in motion a series of protocols to prepare the hospital for an influx of critically injured people.
Additional hospital staff has been called in to manage the crash. People with minor injuries will be diverted to other hospitals in the region.
The number of passengers injured in the crash has not yet been confirmed. The situation is actively developing and the highway remains closed in both directions.
The Okanagan Connector (Highway 97C) is closed in both directions between Aspen Grove and Peachland.
Around 7:15 p.m. the highway closed because of a vehicle crash between the junction of Hwy. 97 and Aspen Grove near the Loon Lake exit. An assessment is in progress but a passenger bus is involved.
⛔ UPDATE - #BCHwy97C CLOSED between #AspenGrove, junction with #BCHwy5A and junction to #BCHwy97 to #Kelowna and #PeachlandBC. Assessment in progress. #Westbank #YLW— DriveBC (@DriveBC) December 25, 2022
ℹ️ For more info: https://t.co/hzT5Azme0V pic.twitter.com/6T1ueio3ds
According to DriveBC, the next update will be sometime on Christmas Day. The winter storm warning is still in effect.
BC Emergency Services are on site with multiple ground units and more on the way.
BCEHS is currently on scene for an accident on Hwy 97C near the Loon Lake exit. Multiple ground units are on scene at this time. More on the way. This remains an active scene and updates will be posted here once available.— BC Emergency Health Services (@BC_EHS) December 25, 2022
Black Press Media will keep up to date.