Two Filipino fruit pickers were killed and three others injured when the car they were travelling in was hit by a train in New Zealand.
Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Jesus Domingo said the incident happened near the Bay of Plenty in the north of the country at about 8.15am today (Wednesday, June 19).
Bay of Plenty is a two-hour drive southeast from the capital Auckland.
He said the victims were trying to cross the railway when the collision occurred and that there may have been a fault with the barrier.
He added that authorities are continuing to investigate the possibility that the warning sign had malfunctioned before the tragedy occurred.
He also said two of the three injured workers were seriously hurt in the smash, but are already said to be in a stable condition.
According to the ambassador, the five overseas Filipinos workers arrived in New Zealand to work on a fruit farm only last week. They were on their way to work when the collision occurred this morning.
The names of the victims are being withheld while authorities work to make contact with their families.
The ambassador also said the Philippine embassy in Auckland would extend all the help and assistance possible to the victims and their families.
New Zealand police are continuing to examine the scene and piece together the cause of the collision.
According to the Bay of Plenty Times, local people said the railroad tracks were “notorious” and had no mechanical arms to stop drivers from crossing the track when trains were approaching.
One witness described the place as “very dangerous” and said there was a history of similar crashes in the area. “If you’re not a local, you don’t know to check for trains,” they said.
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