12 Jul 2012

Four Argentinian tourists killed in crash

10:49 pm on 12 July 2012

A police officer says a car crash that killed four tourists from Argentina in the central North Island is the worst he has ever seen.

The crash happened on State Highway 4 between National Park and Ohakune, just south of Erua, about 10.15pm on Wednesday.

Police on Thursday released the names of those killed. They were: Agustin Donofrio, German Caceres, Nicolas Ursic and Luciano Pucheta, aged between 19 and 35.

A fifth person in the car, Benjamin Blake from Chile, is critically ill in Waikato Hospital. The truck driver received minor injuries.

Ruapehu area commander Inspector Steve Mastrovich says the car appears to have been overtaking a truck close to a bend, before colliding head-on with another truck.

"The car was absolutely mangled - it looked as though it had been through a compacter, it was virtually turned inside out ... It was just like a bomb site, it was pandemonium. It's hard to describe - really, it was incredible."

The tourists worked at Whakapapa skifield and were on their way to a backpackers following a game of indoor soccer when the crash happened.

The accident site is less than 50km from where three American students were killed when their van rolled in May this year.