A late afternoon train derailment in Lethbridge damaged the wall of the Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Centre and disrupted traffic in the area.

The derailment occurred at approximately 5:30 p.m. along Crowsnest Trail just east of 13 Street and the impact of the collision punched two significant holes through the exterior wall of the centre and into the gymnasium.

Travis Plaited Hair, executive director of Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Centre, says he was in his office and unaware of the crash when railway employees entered the building.

"I was sitting in my office and all the doors were shut from the administration side to the gymnasium area," said Plaited Hair. "I actually didn't hear it until the two (rail) workers came to my door and (asked) me if anyone was in the back. I told them 'I hope not' because there's not supposed to be anybody here."

"They didn't say anything about no train and I was surprised when I saw two big holes."

CP Rail officials have launched an investigation into the derailment.

Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Centre officials say the building will be restored in the coming days. "Everything looks secure," said Plaited Hair. "We'll get the holes plugged up for tonight and then move forward from there."

Crowsnest Trail traffic was halted for approximately 45 minutes as two cars blocked the road in both directions.

This is not the first time the building has been damaged by a derailment. In March of 1994, one man died and two people were injured following a collision between a gravel truck and a train. The impact of the crash sent a grain car off the tracks and into the side of what was then a fitness centre.

With files from CTV Lethbridge's Terry Vogt