28 Dec 2016

Tongan college shocked by NZ bus crash

4:54 pm on 28 December 2016

The bodies of the two Tongan victims killed in a bus crash in New Zealand on Christmas eve are expected to arrive in Auckland by Thursday.

Sione Taumalolo, 11 died along with Talita Fifita, 33 in the bus crash near Gisborne on Christmas Eve.

Sione Taumalolo, 11 died along with Talita Fifita, 33 in the bus crash near Gisborne on Christmas Eve. Photo: Supplied

Fifty-three people were onboard the bus in Gisborne when it plunged down a steep bank killing 11-year-old Sione Taumololo, and Talita Fifita, 33.

On board were students from Mailefihi Siu'ilikutapu College who were on a four-week tour to raise money.

The school's Deputy Principal, Simione Halaifonua said the other survivors would arrive in Auckland tomorrow.

Mr Halaifonua said the school is still shocked and a meeting will be held tomorrow to discuss future plans, including the repatriation of the victims' bodies.

"Our hearts are grieving," he said.

"The female victim was an ex-student of ours and the male victim had only enrolled this year. But all the details will be confirmed tomorrow. We are here just waiting on the details to be confirmed at a meeting tomorrow."

Emergency services at the scene of the bus crash south of Gisborne that claimed two lives.

Emergency services at the scene of the bus crash south of Gisborne that claimed two lives. Photo: Facebook / Tonganow

The bus involved in the crash has been recovered and an investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.

Sergeant Cory Ubels, who is the police officer in charge of the serious crash unit for the Eastern District, said recovering the bus was a very difficult task.

"It was about 30 to 40 metres down a very steep bank with foliage and large rocks, we had to winch the bus up using two very large winch trucks and then a crane at the top to put it on to a low-loader to take it back to the Gisborne yard."

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