US students die in New Zealand crash

2012-05-12 08:19

Wellington - Three Boston University students who were studying in New Zealand were killed on Saturday when their minivan crashed. Another five students from the university were injured in the accident, including one who was in critical condition.

The students were traveling in a minivan at about 07:30 Saturday near the North Island town of Taupo when the vehicle drifted to the side of the road and then rolled when the driver tried to correct course, New Zealand police said.

Two men and a woman died at the scene. Another woman was in critical condition at an area hospital, while four other students suffered moderate injuries, police said.

Boston University posted a statement on its website confirming the accident, but did not immediately release the names of the victims because the families had not yet been notified.

"This is a horrible tragedy," Boston University President Robert Brown said in the statement. "Our prayers go out to the students and their families. We will do all we can to provide comfort and assistance to those who have been injured, and to the families and friends of the victims. The university is mobilizing all of our resources to help our students and families deal with this tragedy."

Police and university officials said the BU students were in New Zealand on a study abroad program, and were on a trip to the countryside when the accident happened.

Sixteen students were traveling in two minivans, on their way to hike the Tongariro Crossing, a famous trek rated as one of the most spectacular in New Zealand. The hike crosses a volcanic crater in the central part of North Island.

None of the eight students in the second van was injured.

Kevin Taylor, a police official, said it was not clear why the van drifted to the side of the road. He said some of the students were thrown from the vehicle, indicating that they may not have been wearing seat belts.