Bus in Otira crash going 'very fast', passengers say video

GEORGINA CAMPBELL - STACY/SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ.

Thirty-six people involved in bus crash at Otira Gorge, Arthur's Pass

Passengers seriously injured in a bus crash near Arthur's Pass felt the driver was going "very fast", the Chinese consulate says.

Nine people are in Christchurch Hospital, one in intensive care, after the bus collided wiht a car in Otira Gorge on Thursday. The crash involved 36 people, with injuries including broken bones and crushed hands.

Seven Chinese people travelling on the coach are still in Christchurch Hospital in a stable condition. One has had their right leg amputated below the knee. Two Swiss nationals from the car are also in hospital. One is in a critical condition in intensive care and the other is in a stable condition.

The coach was traveling fast before it crashed in Otira Gorge on Thursday, passengers say.
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The coach was traveling fast before it crashed in Otira Gorge on Thursday, passengers say.

Deputy counsel general of the Chinese consulate in Christchurch, Li Xin, has spoken to the bus passengers.

READ MORE: Thirty-six people involved in bus crash at Otira Gorge, Arthur's Pass

"From the descriptions from the passengers it seems the coach was travelling very fast. All of them told us that," he said.

"We have already made some initial contact with the police to try to find the reason for the accident."

Xin said the passengers were on the first day of their holiday coach tour of the South Island.

"They were travelling in a group from Christchurch to the West Coast. They had just begun their trip in the South Island," he said.

"They do not feel so good. It was the first day of their travels and they had such a tragic accident."

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He said three family members of the injured passengers were flying into Christchurch from China on Saturday evening.

Some of the injured may need more operations, he said.

The bus was operated by Lincoln based company Travlon Coachlines. A staff member declined to comment, directing inquires to police.

Police acting area commander for the West Coast, inspector Iain McKenzie, said witnesses to the crash also said the coach was travelling fast. He said they were investigating the possibility of brake failure on the coach.

He said the two vehicles would be inspected on Sunday.

"After that vehicle inspection we will be in a better position to know what happened," he said.

"We want to examine all the witness statements and the vehicle inspections are the real key for us."

"We are looking into that it may have been brake failure. We are looking at everything."

 - Stuff

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