Quebec: Two children dead and six rushed to hospital after bus crashes into day care centre

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Two children have died and six have been rushed to hospital after a bus crashed into a day care centre in Quebec.

The bus driver, named as Pierre Ny St-Amand, 51, faces nine charges including first degree murder and attempted murder after the tragedy happened in the suburb of Laval, 20 miles (30km) northwest of Montreal, on Wednesday morning.

Parents rushed to the scene to find the centre cordoned off by police after emergency services were alerted around 8.30am.

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Some abandoned their cars and tried to run to the centre but were redirected to a nearby school which had been assigned as a meeting point.

The six children taken to hospital did not suffer life-threatening injuries, police said.

Eyewitness Hamdi Benchaabane described helping to pull one child from the building.

He said he and others were ordered to leave by firefighters as they tried to save a second child, over fears pieces of the roof would collapse.

The bus driver was 'in a different world'

Mr Benchaabane claimed the driver stepped off the bus, removed all his clothing and began screaming.

"The first thing he did was take off all his clothes after opening the bus door.

"He was just yelling, there were no words coming out of his mouth."

Mr Benchaabane described the driver as being "in a different world", adding that he and others at the scene had to hit him to bring him under control before police arrived.

"It was a nightmare, I can't believe it," he said.

Around 80 children under five are said to attend the day care centre, which is located at the end of a driveway off a cul-de-sac.

There is a bus stop on the road but the driver would have had to veer off and go down the driveway to hit the building.

St-Amand has been working for Laval's public transport service for about 10 years and has no incidents of note recorded on his file, the mayor of Laval, Stéphane Boyer, said.

It has been suggested the crash was deliberate, she added.

"There is a theory that it was an intentional act, but that remains to be confirmed by the investigation."

Laval police spokesperson, Erika Landry, said on Wednesday afternoon: "As of now, we don't know the motive of the crime."

A senior Canadian government official, speaking to reporters on the condition of anonymity, said the crash was not a terrorist act and posed no threat to national security.

St-Amand has also been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault causing bodily harm.

He was detained after the incident and appeared in court via video link from a hospital.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his office was "following the situation closely".

The Canadian premier told his 6.4million Twitter followers: "My heart is with the people of Laval today.

"No words can take away the pain and fear that parents, children and workers are feeling - but we are here for you.

"I'm keeping everyone affected by this unfathomable, tragic event in my thoughts."

Canada's CN Tower tweeted that it would dim for five minutes at the top of each hour in honour of the victims of the bus crash and their families.