Employers, PH authorities work together to assist kin of New Zealand train crash victims

By Roy Mabasa

The employer of the two Filipino fruit pickers who perished in a train crash in New Zealand on Wednesday (June 19) is now coordinating with Philippine authorities to enable the families of the victims to secure emergency visas and be with their loved ones in New Zealand.

Southern Cross Horticulture chief executive Andrew Dunstan (Southern Cross Horticulture) Southern Cross Horticulture chief executive Andrew Dunstan (Southern Cross Horticulture)

This developed as the Philippine Embassy in Wellington offered to provide the necessary assistance to the Filipinos and their families.

Aside from the two dead, three other Filipino co-workers who were in the same vehicle they were all riding were injured. One of them was already discharged from a local hospital. Another remains in a critical condition while the other one is in serious but stable condition.

"We are currently working with authorities in the Philippines to arrange emergency visas for families so we can bring them to be with their loved ones,” Southern Cross Horticulture chief executive Andrew Dunstan told the New Zealand media, adding that his company's priority was to support the team and their families.

Dunstan said they are heartbroken by the tragic events that led to the death of their two workers and injuring of three others. The Filipinos are working as kiwi pickers at an orchard near Bay of Plenty in New Zealand.

“We are working with police to understand exactly what happened but our number one priority is and will continue to be supporting our team and their families as we progress through this together,” he added.

The crash occurred at around 8:15 a.m. at the intersection of State Highway 2 and Pongakawa School Road.

Locals near the scene of the accident said the area said the tracks were notorious with no mechanical arms to come down to stop drivers navigating the track.

Reports quoting KiwiRail officials said the intersection where the incident happened was scheduled for upgrading early next year.