Five Chinese tourists have died and two others have been seriously injured in a tourist bus crash north-west of Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island.
New Zealand police said there were 27 people on board the bus, including many Chinese nationals, when it crashed on its way to the tourist town shortly after 11am on Wednesday.
A police officer told the New Zealand Herald that officers arrived at the scene and found “people everywhere”.
Locals said conditions were wet and windy, with pools of water on the road in an area that had received several millimetres of rain that morning.
Rotorua inspector Brent Crowe said the bus swerved onto the wrong side of the road while negotiating a corner. It corrected, only to “flip and roll quite a way off the road” into a ditch.
Emergency services, including helicopters and ambulances, were dispatched to the scene to assist survivors and transfer them to hospitals in Hamilton and Rotorua.
A St John spokesperson said three patients – including one in a serious condition – had been flown to local hospitals.
A further 18 were sent by road for treatment or assessment. The driver was not seriously injured.
China’s state news agency Xinhua said the Chinese embassy in New Zealand was sending people to the scene.
“Our embassy will make every effort to help the Chinese citizens who have died and been injured in the accident,” an embassy spokesperson said.
🇳🇿A number of people have died in a bus crash north of Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island.Police advised of fatalities after a bus carrying more than 20 people rolled over.Emergency services, including five helicopters and three ambulances, were dispatched.
Web pics pic.twitter.com/84EQbV5X1N
— CCTV Asia Pacific (@CCTVAsiaPacific) September 4, 2019
Rotorua Lakes mayor Steve Chadwick told New Zealand news website Stuff the council was helping crash survivors.
“This is absolutely tragic and as a community we will do whatever we can to assist,” Cr Chadwick said.
“Rotorua Lakes Council is providing any welfare assistance needed for passengers who were not injured. That could include anything from providing food and translation services to liaising with accommodation providers and enabling them to contact family.”
The highway has been closed and is expected to remain closed for some hours. Police have asked motorists to avoid the area and delay travel.
There will be a police investigation into the accident.