Police in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) said on Monday that at least 10 people died and 25 others were transported to hospital, after a wedding bus crashed and rolled in the state’s Hunter Region late Sunday night.
According to a statement by NSW Police Force, emergency services were called at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday to the roundabout on Wine Country Drive near the Hunter Expressway off-ramp at Greta, following reports that a coach had rolled over.
During a press conference held on Monday morning, NSW Police Force Acting Assistant Commissioner Tracy Chapman told reporters that 10 people were confirmed deceased, with a further 25 people having been transformed to hospital and suffering varying injuries.
According to Chapman’s briefing, the bus is still on its side and is yet to be righted. She confirmed to reporters that there is a potential of people remaining trapped under the vehicle and the number of death and injury could increase.
“A 58-year-old man, the driver of the coach, was taken to hospital for mandatory testing. And he is now at Cessnock Police Station and currently under arrest,” Chapman said.
“Our investigation and information at this stage indicate that it is a single-vehicle collision. But as we work through that scene and obtain any other information that is available from witnesses or from what the scene presents, then we will look at all avenues,” the police officer noted.
She described the accident scene as “confronting and very traumatic.” “Wherever you’ve got that large-scale incident with that many people, it’s going to be difficult for anyone,” she said.
Multiple ambulances and helicopters were deployed to rush the injured to hospital. Chapman said that there were two people airlifted but most people were transported by road.
“I understand they had been at a wedding together. It’s my understanding that they were traveling together to Singleton presumably for their accommodation with their children and I’ve not been made aware of any children (involved in the accident),” said Chapman.
The road tragedy has already sent a shockwave through Australia on Monday morning.
“All Australians waking up to tragic news from the Hunter send our deepest sympathies to the loved ones of those killed in this horrific bus tragedy,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese wrote on his social media.
“For a day of joy to end in such devastating loss is cruel indeed. Our thoughts are also with those who have been injured,” he added.
NSW Premier Chris Minns tweeted that the loss of lives is “nothing short of heartbreaking.” “For this horrific crash to have occurred on a day that should have been filled with love and happiness only adds to the heartbreak,” said Minns.
Investigations are continuing into the circumstances related to the incident. A crime scene has been established and the scene is being forensically examined by specialists.
Police are also working to identify the crash victims and contact their next of kin.