February 21. 2024. 8:16

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Two children die as bus crashes into daycare centre in Canada

Two children have died and six more have been taken to hospital after a bus crashed into a daycare centre in Quebec, Canada.

Police in Laval, north of Montreal, said the bus driver was arrested and charged with homicide and careless driving.

Police set up a large perimeter around the building in Laval, and panicked parents who ran to the centre were diverted to a nearby school.

Dozens of police and emergency vehicles lined the blocked-off road leading to the daycare centre.

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My heart is with the people of Laval today. No words can take away the pain and fear that parents, children, and workers are feeling – but we are here for you. I’m keeping everyone affected by this unfathomable, tragic event in my thoughts.

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 8, 2023

Laval police spokeswoman Erika Landry identified the driver as a 51-year-old employee, but did not release his name.

Laval mayor Stephane Boyer said the driver has worked for Societe de transport de Laval for about 10 years and has no incidents of note in his file.

A man who lives near the daycare centre said he rushed to the scene of the crash and that he and three parents managed to subdue the driver, who he said stepped out of the bus, removed all his clothing and started screaming.

“The first thing he did was take off all his clothes after opening the bus door. He was just yelling; there were no words coming out of his mouth,” said Hamdi Benchaabane.

The daycare centre is located at the end of a driveway off a cul-de-sac.

There is a bus stop on the cul-de-sac, but the driver would have had to veer off the road and head down the long driveway to hit the building.

Mr Benchaabane said he and the others had to strike the driver to get him under control, before police handcuffed the man. The driver, he said, “was in a different world”.

Mr Benchaabane said he was able to help pull one child from the daycare centre, adding that he and the others tried to save a second child before firefighters ordered them to leave because pieces of the roof were at risk of falling.

“It was a nightmare, I can’t believe it,” he said of what he witnessed. “It was horrible.”

Aerial news footage from the scene showed the bus crashed into the front of the daycare centre.

Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau said his office was “following the situation closely”. On Twitter, Mr Trudeau wrote: “My heart is with the people of Laval today. No words can take away the pain and fear that parents, children, and workers are feeling – but we are here for you. I’m keeping everyone affected by this unfathomable, tragic event in my thoughts.” — AP