A white van struck several pedestrians in Toronto and fled the scene, but police found the vehicle and driver several blocks away several minutes later. Nine people have been confirmed dead and 16 others injured.
The driver is alive and in custody. The incident took place around 1:30pm local time on Yonge Street as paramedics are advising people to stay out of the area of Yonge Street near Finch and Sheppard Avenues. Subway service has also been suspended between nearby stations.
At least seven victims have been taken to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, but it is unclear at this time how many of injured and dead were taken to this hospital or where the others were transported. Toronto police spokesperson Gary Long told Global News: “Reports were that a white van mounted the curb, drove down the sidewalk at southbound Yonge, south of Finch". District Chief for Toronto Fire Stephen Powell told CNN the vehicle drove "between half-mile and a mile". Toronto Fire Service tweeted that the incident was "horrific".
There was reportedly at least one orange bag appearing to contain a body taken from the scene, where police are armed with rifles. Witnesses told the Global News the van appeared to “completely out of control” driving down the major thoroughfare in downtown Toronto. Resident Henri Miller told SkyNews that the vehicle "swerving to, what I would say, fairly deliberately hitting pedestrians" at approximately "60 to 70 mph".
Police Constable Jenifferjit Sidhu said authorities do not yet know the cause or reason for the collision and no details about the driver have been released. However, one official told CNN the incident appeared to be "deliberate" and not an accident.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to the incident: “Obviously, we’re just learning of the situation in Toronto. Our hearts go out to anyone affected. We’re going to obviously going to have more to learn, more to say in the coming hours”.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a statement his "thoughts are with those affected by this incident and the frontline responders who are working to help those injured.I have spoken to Chief Mark Saunders and my office is being updated by Toronto Fire, EMS, TTC and the acting city manager". He said he was on his way to a location near the scene to be briefed on the situation.
Phil Zullo, a Toronto resident, told Canadian Press he saw police arresting a man who had been driving a Ryder rental truck, which Ryder Systems Inc has confirmed. There were people "strewn all over the road," Mr Zullo said. "Brutal" was how he described the scene, adding that there were "about five, six people being resuscitated by bystanders and by ambulance drivers".
Another witness, Chelsea Luelo, told CNN it looked like two cars tried to steer the van away from people. She also said it appeared the driver it a fire hydrant on the way to Shepherd Street, where the driver was caught.
The incident occurred as Cabinet ministers from several G7 countries are meeting to discuss several foreign affairs matters in Toronto as a precursor to the group's June meeting in Quebec City.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies