Five people have been killed in a horrific single-car road crash in Timaru, and police say speed is believed to have been a factor.
The car was overloaded, and there were insufficient seats and restraints for the number of people travelling.
The Herald understands one of the victims was just 15 years old.
The teenager's grandparents came to the crash scene this morning, and said they wanted to get an understanding of the place where they died.
"There are five families affected here. It's pretty major isn't it?" one of the grieving grandparents said.
"To have five lives lost in an instant is a terrible tragedy, and our thoughts are with their families," Superintendent Steve Greally, of the National Road Policing Centre, said.
He said not everybody in the car was wearing seatbelts.
"This is incredibly frustrating," Greally added. "Particularly in a small community, the impact of a crash like this stretches far, and everyone in the area will be hurting."
Police confirmed multiple deaths in the crash, at the intersection of Seadown Rd and Meadows Rd in Washdyke, at about 7.20pm on Saturday.
"This will be extremely devastating," Timaru mayor Nigel Bowen said.
"It is devastating for the district, and from what I hear, a lot of kids were pretty frantic last night trying to find out if their friends were involved.
"It's pretty saddening for the community, and something that hasn't happened in our township for a long time."
A resident phoned 111 at about 6pm last night to complain about "boy racers" who he claimed were racing and doing burnouts.
"The last thing I said to the call-taker was, 'If you don't send someone out here, someone will get killed', and 90 minutes later, we had this," said Ray Colvill, 70, who visited the tragic scene this morning.
The crash happened at an intersection just north of Timaru. The car is understood to have struck a concrete power pole on Seadown Rd.
The area had been popular with boy racers for the past decade or so, Colvill said.
At about 6pm, four cars were "racing" around on a mixture of quiet rural roads and industrial streets.
Colvill said he wasn't sure if the fatal crash involved those who had been racing.
"Usually they don't start until around 8.30pm and go until about 2am, but this was from 6pm last night," he said.
The intersection where the accident happened had a smooth surface, with rubber from previous burnouts, plus some shingle on top, Colvill said.
Five people were killed and another person was extricated from the wreck and taken to hospital.
Police this morning said a sixth person, the driver of the car, was taken to Timaru Hospital last night in a serious condition.
Aoraki Area Commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said: "Sadly, a number of people died at the scene.
"The road will be closed for a significant period of time while a scene examination is undertaken."
Police confirmed it was a single-vehicle crash after it had earlier been reported as a two-car crash.
One person was hospitalised after the crash but police did not initially confirm the total number of people in the car.
Fire and Emergency shift manager Andrew Norris said 13 staff attended the crash scene.
"We responded with units from Washdyke, a fire engine from Timaru and a second rescue tender from Temuka to the north," Norris said.
"They extricated one person from the scene and assisted with the other agencies. But there was only one extrication that was performed at the scene that I'm aware of."
Norris said the Serious Crash Unit was working at the scene and Fenz might be required to go back later.
"Not the sort of thing crews want to be faced with."
The road is closed and motorists were asked to avoid the area.
Police said more information would be released when available.