Two teenage girls have died after being hit by a train while walking along the tracks near the Nova Scotia community of Lantz, about 40 kilometres north of Halifax. A 17-year-old from Lantz and an 18-year-old former exchange student from Germany were pronounced dead at the scene early Friday morning, RCMP said. The two weren’t at a crossing when they were hit.

The identity of the girls has not been disclosed.

The teenagers, who had spent the evening at an athletics banquet, were hit by a CN train travelling southbound toward Halifax at around 1:30 a.m. AT. The accident happened near the intersection of Highway 2 and Mader Street.

It was “impossible” to stop the train in time, a CN spokesman told CBC News.

“Initial reports are that the crew followed proper procedures, sounding the train horn and applying the emergency brakes,” Jim Feeny wrote in a statement.

“It was impossible to stop the train in time to prevent this tragedy.”

Feeny wrote that two crew members have been offered stress counselling.

Don’t know why girls were on tracks

Police, meanwhile, said the train travelled nearly its full length of 600 to 800 metres before it was able to stop.

Staff on the train first noticed the collision and called 911, said RCMP Cpl. Jennifer Clarke. She said police are trying to figure out why the girls were on the tracks.

“We are still trying to put that together,” she said. “Officers are at the scene, as well as investigators from CN police, to try to determine what happened here.”

The 17-year-old was a student at Hants East Rural High School in Milford Station, a spokeswoman for the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board confirmed Friday.

Debbie Buott-Matheson said grief counsellors will be at the school today.

“Generally, we have counsellors on site so that students can come in and they can talk and have a safe and a quiet place where they can go if they just need a moment to collect themselves or if they want to go and spend the day,” she said.

Buott-Matheson believes the 18-year-old from Germany was a former international student at the same school.

‘Very tragic thing’

“This is a really, really sad day,” she said.

“We’ll get through today, and what they’ll probably do is keep checking in with students and staff on the weekend and assess and determine as the weekend progresses what the best approach is for Monday.”

Investigators from CN Rail are expected to be on site with RCMP most of the day.

“This is a very, very tragic thing to happen in this community” Clarke said. “People are very upset right now.”

No TSB investigation

Via Rail spokeswoman Mariam Diaby said the rail line has been cleared, and the investigation will not affect its passenger operation.

The Transportation Safety Board said it will not be sending its investigators to the scene because this is considered a case of trespassing, which is not in their jurisdiction.