Three killed in Canadian train derailment

TORONTO Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:43am EST

1 of 2. A VIA passenger train that derailed is pictured in Burlington, Ontario, February 26, 2012. The VIA Rail train, which was travelling from Niagara Falls to Toronto with about 75 passengers, derailed at 1530 EST (2030 GMT), killing at least one person, according to media reports.

Credit: Reuters/J.P. Moczulski

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TORONTO (Reuters) - A passenger train derailed near Burlington in southern Ontario on Sunday, killing at least three people, according to the train operator VIA Rail.

"There were 75 passengers on board the train at the time of the accident. There are reports of several injuries to passengers and three fatalities," VIA Rail said in a statement.

The six-carriage train, which was travelling from Niagara Falls, Ontario, to Toronto, derailed at 1530 EST (2030 GMT).

"They were in the locomotive, so at this point we know for sure that they (the three people killed) were VIA employees," VIA Rail spokeswoman Michelle Lamarche told CBC News.

A spokesman for the Halton Regional police was able to confirm only one fatality. The cause of the derailment is not yet known.

VIA Rail, which is owned by the Canadian government, said three passengers were airlifted to local hospitals with serious injuries. More than 40 passengers and a crew member were also taken to local hospitals.

The train was reportedly leaking fuel after the derailment, Postmedia News said.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said it had sent a team of investigators to the site of the incident.

VIA Rail said other trains in the region will be affected due to the tracks being blocked at the scene of the accident.

GO Transit, the regional public transit service provider for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, said the derailment had impacted its service along its Lakeshore West line.

A spokeswoman for Hamilton Health Sciences, which operates a number of hospitals in the area, said it had declared a code orange, which means it is facing an external disaster and is putting systems in place to handle those hurt in the derailment.

The derailment occurred on a line owned by Canadian National Railway, the country's largest rail operator.

"We have begun our own internal investigation into the incident and we will be cooperating fully with VIA and the Transportation Safety Board," said a spokeswoman for CN, adding that the derailment will also impact its operations in the area.

"This line has been completely shut-off to any train traffic at this time," she said.

(Reporting By Euan Rocha; Editing by Paul Simao and Christopher Wilson)

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