One dead in Southland crash

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

One person has been killed and several others hurt after a van carrying Chinese tourists crashed in Southland this afternoon.

The van, which was carrying 10 people, went off a bridge on Nokomai Rd and into the Mataura River.

The nine survivors were initially trapped after the crash, which happened about 1.20pm.

The road is closed at the intersection with State Highway 6, which links Queenstown and Invercargill.

Police, fire and ambulance responded, with three rescue helicopters scrambled from Queenstown, some 80km away.

St John sent two ambulances and two response vehicles.

Ian Henderson, communications advisor for St John South Island region, said he had no details of the person found dead at the scene. One female patient, aged approximately in her 40s, was being flown by helicopter to Southland Hospital with possible spinal injuries.

Another woman, age unknown, was being flown to Dunedin Hospital with possible chest injuries.

She was being accompanied by an injured person from the van.

One person, whose age and gender is not yet known, was being flown to Southland Hospital with possible head injuries.

The five others, either unscathed or with minor injuries, were being taken to Southland Hospital.

Nokomai Rd is a small no-exit road that ends at Nokomai Station, a high country sheep and cattle property.

Nobody at the station, or Nokomai Helicopters, which is based there, knew about the crash.

Neither had a van leave the property today, nor were they expecting anybody.

"It's an awful thing to hear. I wonder why they were up this way. Maybe they were lost?'' said one local woman, who did not wish to be named.

A serious crash investigator was on the way to the scene.

- APNZ

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