Fatal crash in south

05:08, Feb 04 2014
Patient arrives by helicopter
IN SAFE HANDS: An injured tourist is transferred from the Southern Lakes Helicopter into Southland Hospital.

A van filled with 10 Chinese tourists plunged into the Mataura River, killing one person and injuring three others.

A St John spokesman said one person had died at the scene south of Queenstown, on Nokomai Rd between Lumsden and Kingston.

A woman in her 40s with possible spinal injuries, and another person with possible head injuries had been separately flown to Southland Hospital.

A woman, whose age was not known, was being flown to Dunedin Hospital with possible chest injuries, accompanied by an uninjured person from the scene.

St John said five patients with minor or no injuires were also being taken to Southland Hospital.

In total two ambulances, three rescue helicopters and two response vehicles had gone to the accident after it was reported at 1.20pm.

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The road remains closed at the intersection of State Highway 6 and Nokomai Road.

Athol rural fire volunteers were first at the scene. Chief fire officer Robert Durling said that when they arrived, some "shocked" fishermen were trying to help. A crew of five jumped into the river to help get the passengers to safety.

Firefighters had been nearby helping an injured shearer when they heard "something may have happened", so drove in the direction of the crash.

Mossburn Volunteer Fire Brigade  chief fire officer Lance Hellewell said four crew attended. When they arrived at the scene all the passengers were out of the water and they assisted with first aid until the choppers arrive, he said.

"Everyone was in such a state of shock," he said.

The Southland Times