Two people died and nearly 70 were left injured in a massive 200-vehicle pileup in Quebec's Montreal city in Canada on Wednesday, February 19, 2020. According to authorities, sudden whiteout conditions due to blizzard likely caused the incident. The pileup stretches more than 11 km (6.8 miles).
"The pileup was likely the result of a snow squall," said AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Rosio. "Similar to a squall line in the summertime, winds can pick up quite dramatically and snow can fall heavily in a short period of time."
"Vehicles that entered the squall likely slowed down and drivers outside the squall potentially did not see the quickly slowing traffic, which likely led to the pileup. It was also occurring during rush hour, which may have also had an influence."
Quebec transport minister Francois Bonnardel also noted that blowing snow severely reduced visibility in the area, leading to the vehicle crash on Highway 15 in La Praire. The squall moved through between 12:00 to 14:00 UTC on Wednesday.
Authorities in Surete du Quebec (SQ), the provincial police force, extracted two bodies around 23:00 UTC, who appeared to had been trapped in their cars for hours. The victims were confirmed dead at 01:00 UTC on Thursday, February 20.
According to SQ Sargeant Stephane Tremblay, the vehicles were surrounded in debris which made it difficult to pull out the victims.
Nearly 70 people sustained injuries, some of them deemed severe. The SQ did not disclose further details on injuries in evolving situations.
Footage of the crash showed that the vehicles involved included a flammable tanker truck and a school minibus. Officials said there were no fires, fortunately, and there were no students on the bus during the accident.
SQ Sargeant Daniel Thibodeau advised motorists to be extra careful on the roads especially when there are windy conditions. "It looks sunny and nice, but it's misleading. The high winds can really cause problems."
Highway 15 remains closed on Thursday.
Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel says the major pileup on Highway 15 was caused by heavy winds blowing snow that was already on the ground, severely reducing visibility. pic.twitter.com/rscY8S63no— CBC Montreal (@CBCMontreal) February 19, 2020
Featured image credit: Ontario Paramedic