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Bus rolls over south of Merritt; 5 critically injured

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A tour bus rolled over on the Coquihalla Highway on Wednesday, approximately 30 km south of Merritt, B.C., leaving all 56 people on board with injuries.

The most recent reports say five people were left with critical injuries, 10 in serious condition, and 28 had non-life threatening injuries.

"We don't have any fatalities listed yet and we're just crossing our fingers and hoping for the best on that one," said RCMP Sgt. Norm Flemming.

Interior Health said injured passengers were sent to hospitals in Merritt, Kamloops, and Kelowna. The RCMP on Thursday said it was a single-vehicle accident and Fleming said all passengers on board were Asian.

The tour bus was being operated by Richmond-based Super Vacation, the "largest Chinese tour operator in North America," according to the company's website. The company's profile says it was 15 branches and over 300 staff and calls its service "No. 1 among all the Asian tour operators" visiting the Rocky Mountains.

"It's our tour, yes," Nick Kam, the company's director for service, told The Canadian Press.

The Coquihalla Highway (Thompson/Nicole Highway 5) was closed for hours in both directions at exit 256. The highway was re-opened between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Thursday night, over four hours after the incident.

Just after 1 a.m. on Friday morning, Drive BC tweeted that both lanes of the Coquihalla were open and that there were no clear delays southbound.

Code Orange at Royal Inland Hospital

The Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops confirmed to Black Press around 4:30 p.m. that it was expecting to receive 40 patients and that it was under Code Orange, a response in preparation to receive a high number of patients.

A spokesperson for the hospital also said Royal Inland is bringing in extra staff to its critical care areas.

Global BC quoted an eyewitness, student Adam Hopewell, who described the scene:

"There were people under the bus. It looked really bad... We (saw) a big cloud of dirt, and it looked like the bus hit the meridian and tipped on the side, and it was upright with a whole bunch of scratches."

Just after the incident, Global anchor Chris Gailus Tweeted the photo below with a witness caption, "Blood everywhere."

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