27 Dec 2016

$26k raised for bus crash survivors

7:37 am on 27 December 2016

More than $26,000 has been raised to help the survivors of the Christmas Eve bus crash that killed two people.

Kristina Williams posted this picture to the Givealittle page she has set up to raise money to help the survivors of the Christmas Eve bus crash.

Kristina Williams posted this picture to the Givealittle page she has set up to raise money to help the survivors of the Christmas Eve bus crash. Photo: Supplied

There were 53 people on board the bus when it went through a barrier on State Highway Two, south of Gisborne, and careered 100m down a bank. 29 people were taken to hospital.

The bus was full of students from Mailefihi Siu'ilikutapu College on the Tongan island of Vava'u who were on a four-week tour of New Zealand. They were raising funds for a school celebration in July.

A page on the fundraising website Givealittle was created by a Wharerata resident, Kristina Williams, who was among the first to the accident scene.

Ms Williams said the visiting Tongans had only the clothes they were wearing when the bus crashed, because all their belongings were trapped in the vehicle or strewn down the steep bank.

Almost 350 people have donated so far.

Bodies can't be returned to Tonga yet

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

Meanwhile, it may be several days before the bodies of the two people who died inthe crash can be returned to Tonga.

The crash killed Sione Taumololo, 11, and Talita Fifita, 33.

The Pacific Peoples Minister, Alfred Ngaro, said the police were working closely with the coroner and families back in Tonga to have them sent home as soon as possible.

He said the coroner was still to decide if a postmortem was required, after which it may take a day or two before the bodies were released.

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