State Highway 5, north of Rotorua, is open this morning following a bus crash which killed five people.
A bus carrying 27 Chinese tourists rolled on the highway, near Waiohotu and Galaxy roads, just before 11.30am on Wednesday.
Police say the bus was travelling south when it failed to take a ‘moderate to easy’ bend, crossed toward the other side of the road, corrected and then flipped onto the driver’s side.
The driver was not seriously injured.
Inspector Brent Crowe says two people have sustained serious injuries, while another four received moderate injuries.
The remaining 16 were triaged by St John with minor injuries.
"The vehicle was operated as a tour bus and it is understood all of the passengers were Chinese nationals," says Brent.
"We are currently working to confirm the identities of those involved and as soon as this is completed, next of kin will be advised.
"This process could take some time.
"A police investigation into the cause of this crash is underway, however we cannot speculate on the contributing factors at this early stage."
Police, including the Serious Crash Unit, remain at the scene and the road will be closed for at least several more hours.
Brent says Police’s Ethnic Liaison team, including Chinese-speaking officers, and Victim Support, are working to support those affected by this tragic incident.
“Rotorua emergency and welfare services have rallied together to provide support and aroha to those affected,” he says.
“Wednesday was a very tragic day and Police acknowledge this as an extremely trying time for all involved.”