Chinese tourists among dead in fatal New Zealand bus crash

Bus was carrying more than 20 people when it rolled over near Rotorua, a popular tourist destination.

    A police officer directs traffic near a fatal bus crash in New Zealand on Wednesday. [Screen Grab/The Associated Press]
    A police officer directs traffic near a fatal bus crash in New Zealand on Wednesday. [Screen Grab/The Associated Press]

    Rescue efforts are under way in New Zealand after a bus carrying a group of Chinese tourists crashed on a highway on the North Island in poor weather.

    Chinese officials said six people had been killed, although the police have yet to confirm the number of deaths or the nationality of the passengers.

    Liang Zhi, a diplomat from the Chinese embassy in New Zealand, told The Associated Press they understood the bus was carrying 25 people, including the driver, a tour guide, and 23 tourists, most of them from Sichuan province. 

    The bus rolled over in bad weather along State Highway 5 about 20 minutes north of Rotorua, a popular destination for tourist groups from China.

    Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that the embassy in New Zealand had launched an emergency plan and the ambassador was heading to the scene.

    Some passengers had been trapped in the wreckage, according to the New Zealand Herald. Helicopters and ambulances were deployed to the scene and the most seriously injured airlifted to hospital.

    Rotorua is popular among tourists for its geothermal activity, including boiling mud pools, and for its indigenous Maori culture.

    SOURCE: News agencies