1 Jan 2016

Eleven people still in hospital after bus crash

7:20 pm on 1 January 2016

Several people involved in yesterday's road crash in the Southern Alps have been discharged from hospitals in Christchurch and Greymouth, but two are still in a critical condition.

Rescue helicopters at the scene of the crash in the Otira Gorge.

Rescue helicopters at the scene of the crash in the Otira Gorge. Photo: Supplied

Sixteen tourists were admitted to South Island hospitals yesterday after a bus carrying visitors from China rolled onto its side, following a collision with a car in the Otira Gorge.

A total of 36 tourists were involved, including three travelling in a car towards Christchurch; the rest were on the bus, which was heading to the West Coast.

St John Ambulance manager Kerry Mitchell oversaw the rescue operation, which was the biggest he had attended.

"When we arrived we found a bus on its side right up against a cliff side - right up against the edge of a cliff, as well as a car that had been crushed and did not really resemble a car any more," Mr Mitchell said.

"It was probably in one of the most remote locations.

"There were a lot of complexities and a lot of patients and it was probably one of the worst things I have ever attended."

The rescue mission was helped by four helicopters and assistance from passers by as well as ground ambulance crews, he said.

Eight people were taken to Christchurch Hospital and eight to Grey Base Hospital.

A person has been discharged from Christchurch, but two are still in a critical condition, while five are in a serious condition. Eleven people in total remained in hospital.

The Chinese Consulate in Christchurch said 31 tourists from Shanghai were on the bus involved in the crash.

The Chinese Consul-General and officials were unable to talk to the patients yesterday, because their injuries were too severe, but it will try and speak with them today.

A spokesman said the consulate has notified the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Beijing and most people involved had contacted their family back in China.

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