MONTREAL — Poor driving conditions caused by a major storm resulted in several highway pileups in Quebec on Tuesday, including two crashes a few kilometres apart that left at least three people with serious injuries.
Quebec provincial police say one trucker suffered critical injuries in the first crash on Highway 20 near Saint-Zotique in western Quebec. About seven trucks and their cargo reportedly caught fire in the accident.
Two other people were taken to hospital with serious injuries in a pileup involving about a dozen vehicles a short distance away. In that accident, a tanker-truck spilled about 20,000 litres of a toxic substance called sodium hypochlorite.
Christian Blanchette, a regional environmental emergency co-ordinator, said the substance is similar to bleach, but very concentrated, and was contained in the highway median. He said the snow turned the material into a jelly, making it easy to recover.
Highway 20 in both directions in the area was expected to remain closed for several hours.
The slick driving conditions were also blamed for an earlier pileup south of Montreal when at least 50 vehicles collided at about 3:30 p.m. ET on Highway 10 in the Magog area. Twelve people suffered minor injuries.
In another crash blamed on the weather, one man died south of Trois-Rivieres when his vehicle collided with a bridge pillar on Highway 55.
Police were also kept busy with a pileup involving about five vehicles, including a provincial police cruiser, on Highway 10 near Eastman in the Eastern Townships. Police say some people suffered minor injuries.
On Tuesday evening, on Highway 40 westbound in the Assomption area northeast of Montreal, about 15 vehicles were involved in another pileup blamed on poor driving conditions. There were no serious injuries reported in that crash.
The heavy snow caused several vehicles to get stuck on Highway 13 in the Montreal suburb of Dorval. Some drivers abandoned their vehicle and left on foot while others waited in their car for several hours.
Montreal firefighters were sent in to help people get out of their vehicle and buses were used to temporarily house them.
Transit officials said about 100 buses were stuck in the snow and more than 100 drivers were unable to get to work Wednesday morning.
The accidents and highway chaos were blamed on the same storm that buried much of southern and eastern Ontario on Tuesday morning.
The Canadian Press