Thursday, 18 Apr 2024

Wedding bus overturns in Australia and kills 10 guests

At least 10 people were killed after a bus carrying wedding guests in Australia rolled over in bad weather.

Around 25 people were also injured after the bus turned on its side on Sunday night at around 11.30pm at a roundabout on Wine Country Drive in the town of Greta in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales state north of Sydney.

The 58-year-old Maitland man was taken to hospital under police guard for mandatory testing and assessment and was later transferred to Cessnock police station.

He was charged with 10 counts of dangerous driving occasioning death, driving in a dangerous manner and negligent driving occasioning death. He was refused bail and will appear before Cessnock local court on Tuesday.

The driver was taken for mandatory testing to determine whether alcohol was a factor in the crash but the results had not been revealed by Monday evening.

He received no serious injuries, police said.

Hunter Valley Police District’s new Acting Commander, Tracy Chapman would not detail the allegations, including whether speed was a factor, but told reporters ‘there is sufficient information… for us to establish that there will be charges’.

A police spokeswoman told reporters that there was ‘sufficient information for us to establish there will be charges’ taken against the driver.

The bus reportedly ‘rolled’ off a ramp at a roundabout, with two of the injured being airlifted to hospital.

It is understood 18 passengers were unhurt.

Ms Chapman of New South Wales Police said it was a ‘possibility’ that the number of people killed may rise, as more passengers may be trapped underneath the overturned bus.

The bus had been taking about 50 guests back from a wedding to their accommodation at the time.

Family and friends arrived at the crash site on Monday morning – but police say they are still trying to identify everyone who was on the bus.

One wedding guest told reporters: ‘It was a nice day, a pretty good wedding … fairytale stuff really … we got the news that there had been a crash, and we all started panicking.’

The guests had earlier attended a wedding at the Wandin Estate Winery and were heading for their accommodation in the town of Singleton, Ms Chapman said.

One guest told Seven News it had been a nice day and a fairy-tale wedding.

A motorist who drove past the crash scene, identified by Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) only as Alison, said the fog was so heavy she could not make out the colours of the flashing lights of police cars, ambulances and fire trucks.

‘The fog was terrible,’ she told the ABC. ‘It was super foggy. You could barely see in front of you.’

Of the 25 people injured, 21 remained in hospitals late on Monday morning local time and one was in a critical condition, the state government said.

The conditions of the others were described as stable. Another 18 passengers were uninjured.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese thanked first responders and offered government support to victims and their families, saying the ‘mental scars of this will not go away’.

‘For a joyous day like that, in a beautiful place, to end with such terrible loss of life and injury is so cruel and so sad and so unfair,’ Mr Albanese told reporters.

‘People hire a bus for weddings in order to keep their guests safe. And that just adds to the unimaginable nature of this tragedy,’ he added.

Jay Suvaal, the mayor of Cessnock, said the crash was ‘truly horrific’.

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