Four South Korean women have died in a horrific car crash in southern Queensland, just weeks after they arrived in Australia on a backpacking trip.
Police believe their vehicle failed to give way at a Southern Downs intersection and was struck by a semi-trailer about 5.30pm on Wednesday.
The truck hit the car on the driver’s side and dragged it along the New England Highway near Stanthorpe for about 150 metres.
The women – aged in their mid-20s – died at the scene. The truck driver was taken to Stanthorpe hospital with minor injuries.
“It is an absolute tragedy,” assistant commissioner Mike Condon told reporters.
“They had only been in the country a few weeks. It was raining but it would appear this was a simple fail to give way. It was quite a scene.”
Authorities are talking to the South Korean consulate to inform the families of the victims, who were living and working on a nearby farm.
Condon said it highlighted the need for caution on the roads over the Easter period, especially for international visitors getting behind the wheel.
“It reinforces the issues we have with backpackers not understanding our road rules,” he said.
“I want to get the message out there for all people to abide by the road rules, understand the road rules and be careful out there.”
Condon said the truck driver was “devastated”.
“He is obviously in a state of shock. We are providing him the support we can,” Condon said.
“He is devastated by what has occurred and [it is] something he will live with for the rest of his life.”
Members of the three paramedic crews who attended the “horrific incident” on Wednesday will also be provided with support, the Queensland Ambulance Service said.
“These scenes do take their toll on first responders,” QAS superintendent Steve Johns said. “To come across significant fatalities as they did would be quite confronting for them.”
The New England Highway has reopened after extensive delays as authorities assessed the damage on Wednesday night. More delays are expected when forensic crews return to the scene on Thursday.
Anyone with dashcam footage should contact police.