Wedding bus crash kills at least 10 in Australia; driver arrested

At least 10 people have been killed after a bus carrying guests from a wedding in Australia’s Hunter Valley wine region crashed Sunday evening in one of the country’s deadliest bus accidents, prompting offers of condolence from local lawmakers all the way up to the Australian prime minister.

Another 25 people have been taken to hospitals, authorities said. The 58-year-old driver of the bus has been arrested, and criminal charges are pending, police said without disclosing the man’s name.

Tracy Chapman, a New South Wales police superintendent, said emergency officials responded to reports of a crash around 11.30 p.m. Sunday local time and arrived to find a “confronting and very traumatic scene.”

The bus overturned near a roundabout connecting the picturesque Hunter Valley wine region to an expressway.

Chapman said forensic investigators remained at the crash site on Monday morning, and it was possible that more victims could still be pinned under the wreckage.

“We are still trying to identify all of the people on the bus,” Chapman said. She declined to specify the ages of the passengers, but she said that no children were on board.

Chapman said it was too early to disclose the cause of the crash, but the driver has been arrested and taken to a local police station after earlier being taken to a hospital for mandatory testing.

“There’s sufficient information for us to establish that there will be charges. But I won’t go into the detail about those at this time,” Chapman said at a news conference.

She said the bus passengers had attended a wedding Sunday at Wandin Estate — a popular winery and wedding venue — and were heading to Singleton, a town about 20 miles away, to stay the night.

“All of us know the joy of going to a wedding, a chance to celebrate dear friends and family. They are some of the happiest times that you can have,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said at a news conference on Monday. “For a joyous day like that in a beautiful place to end with such terrible loss of life and injury is so cruel and so sad and so unfair.”

He promised to provide support to the victims and their families.

On its website, the winery promises an “unrivaled” experience with the “perfect blend of Hunter beauty, fragrant settings, seasonal local cuisine, the finest wines.”

The winery didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement provided to local media, Wandin Estate said it was “deeply saddened to hear of the bus crash overnight that has claimed the lives of some of our guests.” It offered its “heartfelt condolences” to the family and friends of the victims.

Clayton Barr, a local lawmaker, described the road where the crash occurred as “well-lit” with a good road surface and a low speed limit.

“It’s just a reminder of how fragile our lives are when we’re out on the road really,” he told Australia’s Nine television network.

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