Pileup on Coquihalla Highway sends 29 to hospital, 136 to warming centre

First responders and highways crews worked through the night, helping 165 victims involved in a multi-vehicle pileup on an icy stretch of the Coquihalla Highway.

British Columbia's Provincial Health Services Authority says 29 of those people were hospitalized and range from stable to critical condition following the six vehicle crash that happened about 8 p.m. Sunday.

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Spokesperson Amy Robertson says two buses, two transport trucks and two passenger vehicles collided near the bottom of a hill just north of Hope, about 150 kilometres east of Vancouver.

A tweet from a passenger on one bus said it slid into a transport truck and the other vehicles could not avoid the wreckage.

Another described seeing the second bus flipped in the ditch and waiting for hours to be taken to safety at a high school in Hope.

Members of the Hope Search and Rescue team joined several area fire departments and Chilliwack Search and Rescue workers at the scene.

The Hope group posted photos of the collision showing two transport trucks twisted together across the highway, with one cab partially down an embankment while the truck's rear wheels rested on another mangled vehicle.

The accident forced the closure of the Coquihalla in both directions between Hope and Merritt for about seven hours, but traffic was moving northbound early Monday. 

Drive BC reported this morning that the southbound side of the highway is now open.

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