Fourteen people are dead and 14 are in hospital after a bus carrying a junior hockey team to a playoff game in Saskatchewan collided with a transport truck on a rural highway, according to RCMP.

The crash involving the Humboldt Broncos team bus occurred on Highway 35 near Gronlid, more than 200 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, late Friday afternoon.

 

The bus was T-boned by a transport truck, according to the president of the Nipawin Hawks, which was scheduled to play the Broncos in Game 5 of a semi-final Friday night. There were 28 people, including the driver, on board the bus at the time of the collision, RCMP said in a release.

Police said three of the people transported to hospital have injuries that are "critical in nature."

The Humboldt Broncos released a statement late Friday night announcing the news on its website.

“Our thoughts and prayers are extended to the families of our staff and athletes as well as to all who have been impacted by this horrible tragedy. Our Broncos family is in shock as we try to come to grips with our incredible loss,” Broncos President Kevin Garinger said in the release.

"It's a horrible accident, my God," Nipawin Hawks President Darren Opp told The Canadian Press. "There's uncles and moms and dads waiting to hear whether their sons and nephews are OK.”

"It's terrible. It's absolutely terrible."

More than 100 people, including parents and grandparents of some of the players on the bus, are gathered at a church in Nipawin, Sask. according to a local pastor.

"Lots of them are waiting for information," said Pastor Jordan Gadsby of the Apostolic Church. "Some of the families have gotten information and have gone to be with their kids. Some of them are waiting to hear if their kids are alive."

RCMP Insp. Ted Munro said “significant resources” had been deployed to the scene.

As for fatalities, Munro said next of kin are being notified.

“At this time our primary focus is to treat the injured and get them to the required medical facilities,” Munro said at a press conference Friday night.

The team is part of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, which is open to players 20 years or younger. Thirteen of the Humboldt Broncos players are from Saskatchewan, 10 are from Alberta, and one is from Manitoba.

Matthew Gourlie, a sports writer with the DUBNetwork, told CTV News Channel that the team is a source of pride in the tight-knit community.

“Some kids dream of playing in the NHL. But if you are from Humboldt, you dream first of becoming a Humboldt Bronco,” he said. “I can’t imagine what the community is going through.”

Three air ambulance helicopters were dispatched to the scene, a spokesperson from STARS Ambulance told CTV News.

“This is a very unusual case, and we really wanted to be able to help as best we could with this tragic accident,” STARS spokesperson Mark Oddan told CTV News Channel on Friday.

Oddan said each air ambulance is capable of carrying up to two patients.

The Nipawin Hawks were scheduled to play the team Friday night, but confirmed that the game was cancelled due to the crash.

A GoFundMe campaign for the team has been set up and has already raised more than $42,000 as of Saturday morning.

In a statement on Twitter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “I cannot imagine what these parents are going through, and my heart goes out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy, in the Humboldt community and beyond.”

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called the collision “truly devastating” and offered condolences to family and friends of the victims.

“First responders are on the scene doing everything possible to help. Love + prayers to all,” Goodale said on Twitter.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said he found the news “difficult to comprehend.”

“To the City of Humboldt, the entire Broncos organization, and the families impacted by this tragedy, please know you are in Saskatchewan’s hearts,” Moe said in a Facebook statement.

“From a grieving province, thank you to every one of the first responders and medical professionals for your courageous response under the most difficult circumstances imaginable.”

With files from The Canadian Press