Rotorua bus crash: Passenger tells Chinese-language media bus turned sharply then braked

A survivor from the horrific Rotorua bus crash has told Chinese-language media the driver turned sharply, then braked on a slippery road.

Five people were killed in the incident on Wednesday afternoon, which had 27 passengers on board at the time of the crash.

There were high winds, rain, fog and the road was slippery when the bus failed to take a "moderate to easy" bend and flipped onto the driver's side. The driver was not seriously injured.

The bus on its side with smashed windows.
The site of the accident. Photo credit: Bishal Basnet

Chinese-language website SkyKiwi reports one of the passengers was awake when the accident occured and able to see what happened.

The woman told SkyKiwi the bus turned sharply, almost 360 degrees, before the driver braked on slippery road.

SkyKiwi reports witnesses found the bus on its side partially submerged in water, the windscreen damaged and some passengers still trapped inside.

The injured were taken to several hospitals in different cities, including Rotorua Hospital and Waikato Hospital.

As dawn broke on the day after the crash investigators will start looking into what happened. Newshub reporter Emma Cropper says there are a few options.

"The driver of the bus was one of the survivors. He wasn't in a serious condition so will likely be the centre of their investigation, asking him questions about what did happen," she told The AM Show.

"It was very wet in Rotorua yesterday, it is still very much like that here today. It could be very likely that the weather did play a part, could be driver error.

"Police are saying that it's way too early in their investigation, but they will be looking at that to determine just how these people did end up in such a horrific crash yesterday."

A bus on its side, seen from above.
The scene from above. Photo credit: Westpac Rescue Helicopter

There are refreshed calls for mandatory seatbelts on buses. Inspector Brent Crowe said on Wednesday it is not yet known whether the bus was fitted with seatbelts or if the passengers were wearing them.

Clive Matthew-Wilson, author of the annual car buying book the Dog and Lemon Guide, said in a statement New Zealand's windy roads are incredibly risky.

"At low speeds, such as around town, it's not practical to require occupants to wear seatbelts. However, buses that travel our highways need to protect their occupants in the event of a collision."

"It's nonsense to say that older buses can't be retrofitted with seatbelts."

Anyone who saw the crash or a white bus travelling south on State Highway 5 before the incident who has not yet spoken to police is asked to contact Rotorua Police on (07) 349 9560.




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