Published: Wed, September 04, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Six Chinese tourists feared dead in crash of bus in New Zealand

Six Chinese tourists feared dead in crash of bus in New Zealand

Rescue efforts are underway in New Zealand where several people are feared dead after a bus carrying more than 20 people rolled over on a busy highway amid bad weather.

Police say the road will remain closed for a "considerable amount of time" as investigations continue.

Emergency services, including helicopters and ambulances, were dispatched to the scene to assist survivors and transfer them to hospitals in Hamilton and Rotorua.

Crowe said five people were confirmed dead, two had serious injuries, four moderate injuries and the rest of the passengers were less injured, some able to walk away.

Liang Zhi, a diplomat from the Chinese Embassy in Wellington, told The Associated Press that they understand the bus was carrying a driver, a tour guide, and Chinese tourists mostly from the Sichuan province.

A police spokeswoman did not confirm the nationality of the passengers on the bus.

There were no other vehicles involved in the accident.

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Sheriff Brown said that oxygen or propane tanks could have exploded during the fire, but there was no sign this sparked the blaze. Between four and six victims were seen in the wreckage on Monday, but they were unable to be recovered before nightfall.

A witness said the bus windscreen was shattered and people were sitting down by the coach.

He said road generally doesn't cause many problems, but conditions were poor at the time.

"I think that the aroha from the Rotorua community will shine through", Crowe said.

The Chinese embassy in New Zealand has launched an emergency plan.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick described the crash as "absolutely tragic" and vowed Rotorua would do whatever it could to help.

Crowe said the driving conditions were very unfavourable with "high winds, fog and a lot of rain".

"At the request of the police, Rotorua Lakes Council is providing any welfare assistance needed for passengers who were not injured".

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