A pileup involving roughly 200 vehicles killed two people and injured dozens of others on Autoroute 15 in La Prairie, Québec, Canada on Wednesday. According to the CETAM ambulance service, about 100 people were taken to three local hospitals, CNN reported.
Sudden whiteout conditions with blowing snow severely limited visibility in the area likely caused the major chain reaction, Quebec's Transport Minister François Bonnardel said at a news conference.
Bonnardel also later added that the area of Highway 15 where the massive pileup happened wasn't particularly prone to accidents.
"The pileup was likely the result of a snow squall that moved through between 7 and 9 a.m. [Wednesday] morning. 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," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rossio said.
According to Rossio, this can lead to whiteout conditions that can bring severely reduced visibility and in some cases to a quarter of a mile or less.
"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." Rossio said.
Images and videos of the crash shared on social media showed a school minibus, a tanker truck with a flammable materials sign as well as other mangled cars involved in the deadly crash.
Massive pile up along the south shore of Montreal (La Prairie) this afternoon. Weather-related due to snow squalls. 100-200 vehicles involved. 69 reported injured. #weather #storm #Montreal (photo Simon-Marc Charron) pic.twitter.com/RoC6LhJQJC— P McCarthy (@wxdog) February 19, 2020
Emergency personnel scrambled to get people out of their cars but at least two people were trapped and died as a result of the crash. Workers had to use saws to free people from at least nine vehicles, according to the Montreal Gazette.
The highway was reopened around 1 a.m. Thursday, the Gazette reported.
No students were involved in the accident, officials reported.
Multiple vehicles looked as if they were only tangled metal, while roughly 75 were able to get towed and about 50 lightly damaged vehicles were able to drive away from the scene, said Sgt Marie-Michelle Moore with the province's police force and highway patrol authority, citing The Guardian.
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