They'd only known each less than 24 hours but the new group of friends didn't muck around helping those injured in Saturday's fatal bus crash at Turoa.

The crash claimed the life of Auckland 11-year-old Hannah Francis and left 18 others battling injuries, the majority of whom have since been discharged from hospital.

It's since been revealed the 1994 Mitsubishi Fuso bus had failed nine inspections between 2005 and 2016, and at the end of May this year had racked up 277,885km.

Wellington woman Brittany Cosgrove had travelled to Ohakune with two car loads of friends to help celebrate her friend Zoe Cunningham's birthday for the weekend.

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But as conditions continued to deteriorate, the group decided to flag the skiing and head back down.

Cosgrove and Cunningham jumped in a car with three others, driver Robert Williams and fellow passengers, Gavin Brown and Satya Lao, for the journey.

Just before the 9km mark, they pulled over to change their car back to 2WD when the bus passed them. They carried on and eventually came across a car parked in the middle of the road.

Confused, they slowly drove past before coming across the crumpled bus lying on its side with smoke coming out from it.

They jumped out among the carnage to help in an eerily quiet scene.

Hannah Francis died in the bus crash that left at least 18 others injured, most of whom have been since been discharged from hospital. Photo / Supplied
Hannah Francis died in the bus crash that left at least 18 others injured, most of whom have been since been discharged from hospital. Photo / Supplied

The guys ripped off the windscreen which had already been damaged after the bus driver got thrown through it, to get passengers out.

Cosgrove ran to the back of the bus and was confronted by an injured and bloodied passenger running towards her.

"We were trying to figure out what was going and as everybody came back into consciousness, all I could hear was a guy running at me screaming."

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She grabbed him and he collapsed on her. Despite blood pouring from his head he was more concerned about his wife who was still inside the bus.

As she tended to his head wound, other motorists started to arrive, offering help, blankets and other necessities. A St John ambulance was at the ski field and arrived at the scene shortly after.

Cosgrove grabbed snowboards for the injured to lay on as the embankment was rocky and uneven.

Brittany Cosgrove and her friends were the first to come across the crash. Photo / Supplied
Brittany Cosgrove and her friends were the first to come across the crash. Photo / Supplied

Some passengers, who had been told by the bus driver to put their ski helmets on before they crashed, had their injuries minimised after being warned to brace for the impact.

Cosgrove said they saw Hannah Francis and knew that she would need assistance from emergency services.

The 24-year-old described the scene as "surreal".

She said she was proud of the actions of her friends - three of whom she only met the day before - and she also hoped to meet up with the injured Malaysian man who she sat with until he was taken away in an ambulance.

"It was almost surreal because you don't have time to be scared ... everything was just done on adrenaline really, after we clicked what was actually going on. It wasn't until later on that you think about how scary it is."

She said they were one of the last groups to leave and spent the night debriefing as a group back at their accommodation. They would all likely get some grief counselling.

The bus driver was thrown through the front windscreen of the bus after crashing and rolling on the road down from the Turoa Ski Field on Saturday. Photo / Supplied
The bus driver was thrown through the front windscreen of the bus after crashing and rolling on the road down from the Turoa Ski Field on Saturday. Photo / Supplied

One passenger, a 29-year-old woman, remains in a stable condition in Waikato Hospital.

It has been reported that the bus' brakes failed before crashing into a bank and rolling.

Whanganui police investigations manager Detective Senior Sergeant Neil Forlong said tonight police were still investigating the cause of the crash and were calling for witnesses and passengers to come forward.

"The more information we have to support our investigations, the better, so please don't hesitate to contact us. Even if you think your information may not be useful, it could be valuable to us."

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Team, Criminal Investigation Branch, and Serious Crash Unit investigations were underway.

Anyone with information could contact Taumarunui police on 07 895 8119.

Police Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron said the crash had shocked the community and they all wanted to know what happened and to ensure it never happened again.

He said most Ruapehu Alpine Lifts [RAL] bus drivers were locals who knew the buses and the roads well.

A blessing had been performed at the crash scene by local iwi on Sunday.

NO BUS ISSUES AT OTHER SKI FIELDS

None of the country's other major ski fields have pulled any of their bus fleet from operation despite the tragedy on Mt Ruapehu.

Bridget Legnavsky, general manager at Cardrona Alpine Resort and Paul Anderson of NZ Ski - who operate, Coronet Peak, Remarkables and Mt Hutt - said they carried out regular servicing of their buses.

Legnavsky said under their policy, drivers did daily checks on each vehicle all of which had current services and Certificate of Fitness.

Emergency services and skiiers at the scene.
Emergency services and skiiers at the scene.

They had two 2018 Isuzu purpose built truck buses, along with a 2006 Scania F94 and one 2009 Hino FG.

"We are very confident in the condition of these buses and the extensive driver training and driver experience."

When asked if it was a wake-up call for the industry, she said any accident needed to be "understood completely and all learnings need to be taken so that we can all continually improve.

"This tragedy has naturally shaken our industry. We have triple checked our fleet, policy and procedures around vehicles and drivers and are very happy with the level of safety we have.

"We have spent time with our staff and drivers to open up about the accident, discuss their feelings and ensure we have mitigated risk to a level that we are all very comfortable."

Anderson said NZ Ski already had "a pretty rigorous checking system in place" for its fleet, all of which also goes through a daily checking system.

The 27-bus fleet also had full mechanical checks every two weeks. The vehicles were also custom-made for alpine conditions and fitted with GPS monitoring.

"It's a critical part of our operation and safety is just totally paramount."

As for if the crash would shake up the industry, Anderson said all "passenger transport operators should operate to the highest standards of safety anyway".

"I can't comment on other operators but I'm very confident of our operations."

He doubted budget would be an issue for RAL.

"I would be surprised if budget is an issue. When you're transporting human beings safety is absolutely paramount."

Toby Arnott, general manager at Treble Cone, said its mountain transport was provided by a "reputable contractor with a fleet of well-maintained, modern vehicles. We have full confidence in their service."

Ruapehu Alpine Lift chief executive Ross Copland did not respond to requests for comment.