WATCH: A truck driver following the bus recorded the crash on his dash cam and can’t believe no one was killed. Jill Bennett reports.
UPDATE: Out of the 43 patients originally taken to hospitals, 22 remain in hospital. Eight are at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops and 14 are at Kelowna General Hospital. Of the injured passengers three are in critical condition; two are in serious condition and 17 have non-life threatening injuries. Hospital staff expect additional discharges of patients this weekend.
SOUTH OF MERRITT — Dozens of passengers are in hospital, and seven are in critical condition after a tour bus crash on the Coquihalla Highway.
Around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, RCMP, fire and ambulance officials responded to the crash about 30 kilometers south of Merritt.
The RCMP say they have obtained a dashboard camera from a tractor-trailer showing the rollover, and that speed does not appear to be a factor.
Six helicopters and 19 ambulances were dispatched to the scene.
Royal Inland Hospital is treating 40 patients and is on Code Orange, meaning a disaster or mass casualty incident.
Another 20 patients were taken to Kelowna General Hospital, which is also on Code Orange.
According to Sgt. Norm Fleming of Merritt RCMP, 56 people were on board, all of whom were Asian.
Thirty-five people sustained minor injuries and 15 people have compound fractures. As of Friday afternoon, seven people are listed in critical condition.
There are no reported fatalities at this time.
WATCH: Aerial footage of the bus crash
PHOTO GALLERY: Tour bus crash near Merritt. Warning – some pictures are graphic
The bus is identified as belonging to Super Vacation Canada – the largest tour operator in North America.
The manager of the Asian tour company told Global News the bus involved was carrying a four-day tour group, including a driver and tour guide.
He says there were passengers from B.C., United States and Mainland China on board.
WATCH: Dozens of bus passengers were injured in a terrible bus crash on a high-speed mountain highway in B.C. As Jeremy Hunka reports, Highway 5 is often called the most dangerous in the country.
Adam Hopewell, a student who was driving the same stretch of highway when the crash happened, saw several injured people at the scene, some of them bleeding.
“There were people under the bus. It looked really bad,” he told Global News.
“We [saw] a big cloud of dirt, and it looked like the bus hit the meridian and tipped on the side, and it was upright with a whole bunch of scratches,” he said, adding all of the windows on one side of the bus were broken.
WATCH: Adam Hopewell and Seth Waterstreet were in a car driving past the tour bus crash near Merritt and describe to Global News what they saw
WATCH: Catherine Urquhart reports on a tour bus crash south of Merritt that sent many to hospital
Highway 5 southbound is currently closed. There is a detour via Highway 8 and Highway 1.
The northbound direction has now been re-opened.
WATCH: Should seat belts be mandatory for buses?
Buses carry millions of passengers a year across this continent and there are relatively few serious accidents. But crashes do raise questions about bus safety in general and whether seat belts should be mandatory. Brian Coxford reports. Warning: Contains scenes that some viewers may find disturbing.