Toronto: Several killed as van rams into pedestrians

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Toronto police confirmed 9 people were killed and 16 injured when a white van mounted a curb in Toronto on Monday. The suspect fled the scene but the police managed to track down the vehicle and arrest the suspect, who was apparently armed. Toronto’s Sunnybrook hospital said five of the injured were in critical c

Onlookers treating one of the injured after the Toronto attack

Onlookers treating one of the injured after the Toronto attack (Reuters)

What we know so far

  • The incident happened at about 13.30 local time (19.30 UTC) at the corner of North America’s longest street, Yonge Street and Finch Avenue East in the North York area some 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of the city center. 
  • An unconfirmed report said there are multiple fatalities; Reuters news agency reports two dead; The Toronto Star reports three dead.
  • Paramedic spokeswoman Kim McKinnon said first responders were at the scene treating multiple patients, but didn’t confirm the number or extent of the injuries.
  • Constable Jenifferjit Sidhu said the cause or reason for the collision are not yet known.
  • The city’s Sunnybrook Hospital said it had received 7 patients, with the emergency department on lockdown.  
  • Eyewitnesses said shoes and debris could be seen in the road.
  • Police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said a white truck jumped the curb. 
  • Eyewitnesses said it then plowed into several people on the sidewalk.
  • The vehicle then fled the scene before being found and the driver taken into custody.
  • The suspect was reportertedly armed and gave his weapon to the police during the arrest
  • No details of the arrested driver’s gender or age have been given.
  • Police have closed off the area, suspended subway services in the vicinity of the incident and asked the public to stay away from the area.

‘Hearts go out’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a brief statement, saying he was “just learning about the situation in Toronto now. Our hearts go out to anyone affected. Obviously we’re going to have more to learn and more to say in the coming hours.”

Kathleen Wynne, the premier of Ontario, said provincial, federal and Toronto city police were working together to investigate what happened. Speaking to reporters at around 15:50 local time, Wynne said no motive has been determined yet. “I think we are all unsettled and disturbed by a situation like this. I think it’s impossible not to be. It’s frightening,” she said.

Ryder System Inc confirmed one of its trucks was involved in the incident.

An eyewitness, Nick Sanka, told local broadcaster Global News: “One person was hit at the corner of Yonge and Finch, two at the next corner and three at the corner next to me were run over,” he said. “He was definitely speeding, wasn’t swerving just went straight through,” he added.

Another eyewitness Alex Shaker told the CTV News Channel: “He started going down on the sidewalk and crumbling down people one by one.”

Critical timing: The incident occurred as ministers from the G7 countries were meeting in Toronto in the run-up to the G7 meeting in Quebec City in June. 

Below the radar: The US and Europe have experienced deadly attacks in recent years using vehicles to mow down pedestrians, although there is no official indication yet that this was a terrorist attack, and Canada has experienced few terror attacks itself.

Goodale said Canada had not changed its terrorism alert level.

A victim is helped by pedestrians after a van hit multiple people in Toronto (Reuters)

A victim is helped by pedestrians after a van hit multiple people in Toronto

jbh/rt (Reuters, dpa, AP)

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