5 Jul 2012

Tour company tracing bus crash passengers

7:43 pm on 5 July 2012

The tour company whose bus crashed on Thursday morning in Southland says it is still trying to establish where the passengers are from.

The Worldway Travel bus slid on black ice and landed on its side on State Highway 94, about 4km north of Mossburn, just before 9am.

Fifteen of the Worldway Travel bus's 30 passengers were injured when it slid and rolled onto its side, bringing down powerlines.

Police say all the passengers on board are Mandarin speakers and the Chinese consulate is assisting.

But a manager of the Worldway Travel company, Jason Yu, says the tourists are not all from China.

Mr Yu says people joined the tour from a range of backgrounds, including Australia, and maybe from New Zealand.

Mr Yu says his company's staff are now supporting the tourists to see if they want to continue their journey.

Police say it is lucky no-one was killed in the crash.

Senior sergeant Maggie Windle told Checkpoint someone could easily have died, especially if the bus had been going faster.

"The bus was travelling at around 40 to 50km in speed behind another bus but it slid on the black ice, it's taken a 180 degree turn, come off the road, and ended up facing the way it came.

"It then hit a power pole with lines coming down."

Ms Windle says she does not know if the driver knew the area or how to handle the conditions.

The Transport Agency says ice warning signs were in place when the bus crashed .

The Agency says State Highway 94 has been affected by areas of black ice for the past eight days because of fog and cold temperatures, and the section where the crash happened had been checked by its contractors at 6am and 7am.

But it says a light shower of rain came down at about 8am creating conditions police have described as treacherous.

A child with serious injuries has been flown to Dunedin hospital accompanied by his mother and an adult with serious injuries has been flown to the hospital in Invercargill.

Ms Lynch says another seven people with moderate injuries and six with minor injuries have been taken to Invercargill hospital after some initial treatment at the Mossburn fire station.

Police Serious Crash Unit and Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit officers were to examine the crash scene.