Aussie Cruise Passengers Seriously Hurt In Vanuatu Crash
Brisbane hospitals are on standby to receive a group of Australian tourists injured in a fatal bus crash in Vanuatu.
P&O says 12 tourists, who'd been travelling on the Brisbane-based Pacific Dawn cruise ship, were hurt in Monday's crash.
Ten of them have serious injuries and three have already been airlifted to Noumea where they are receiving specialist care.
The airlift will continue on Tuesday, with some of the other victims to be flown to Brisbane hospitals, a P&O spokesman told AAP.
The crash, in the capital Port Vila, involved a local commuter bus and a tour bus run by a local operator.
"Sadly, two members of the local community have passed away following the accident," the spokesman said.
He would not comment on the likelihood of any fatalities among the injured Australians, but added: "The injuries are significant - the sort of injuries you'd expect in road trauma."
"This was a big event for Port Vila. So we made the decision to airlift them to take the pressure off (local) health services."
P&O said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was aware of the crash, and was providing consular assistance.
The families of the injured have also been notified.
The Pacific Dawn is based in Brisbane and P&O says it's likely most, if not all, of the injured 12 would be Australian.
The spokesman could not provided ages or genders for those hurt, nor say if the crash involved children.
The Pacific Dawn will remain in Port Vila until the medical evacuations are complete.
"Our thoughts are with our guests and families at this time and also with members of the Ni Van community," P&O said on its Facebook page.
In a new Facebook post on Tuesday morning, P&O said injured passengers were receiving good care in a Port Vila hospital while they await medical evacuations.
"We are also receiving strong consular support both in Port Vila and in Noumea as this operation continues," the company said.
"We thank our other guests who are currently on Pacific Dawn and have expressed their concern for their fellow guests. The captain is updating them on developments."
Michael Smith is the director of Gold Coast-based Medical Rescue Air Ambulance, and says his company is sending two planes to Port Vila to retrieve patients.
He said they had everything from serious head injuries to multiple lower-limb fractures.
"It sounds like it was a pretty nasty accident," he told ABC radio.
The first of his two planes - each equipped with a specialist emergency doctor, intensive care nurse, and critical care paramedic - would land in Port Vila about 8.30am (AEST), with the second to leave the Gold Coast later in the day.
Some former P&O passengers said they'd feared for their own safety while on bus tours in Vanuatu.
"I went on one of the tour buses through P&O and it was the scariest I had ever been on - we nearly had a head on collision and the driver was speeding like a maniac, time P&O took responsability (sic) to sign up safe tour buses with experienced drivers with safty (sic) in mind. This was in Vanuatu in Port Villa," Val Mer wrote.
Another, Daniel Adams, agreed: "They need do drive safer and when we were there the van we were put into (after paying top dollar for the tour) had extremely bald tyres and then he was speeding on gravel roads. P&o need to monitor this better. My wife and I were scared!"
Danny Bushel said his in-laws were on the bus, and had suffered broken bones.
" ... mother-in-law has a compound fracture to her femur, and father-in-law has a broken left arm," he wrote on Facebook.