Seat belts saved Northland bus tourists

Tourists in a bus that was turned on its side after a crash on State Highway 1 just south of Whangarei escaped uninjured because they were wearing seat belts, police say.

All 11 people on board the 40-seater bus managed to climb out the back window after the bus was turned on its side in a crash at an intersection 20km south of Whangerei about 10am today.

The passengers were all wearing seat belts, a police spokeswoman said

Conditions on the road were wet and the bus crashed after vehicles ahead slowed to make way for a wide load vehicle, she said.

When the driver braked, the bus drifted off the road and into a drain on the left hand side of the road where it tipped over.

The crash caused one lane of SH1 to be closed and police expected there would be delays until a heavy crane removed the bus from the accident scene this afternoon.

Police were yet to determine the exact cause of the crash but it was possible that the brakes locked up.

- NZPA

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