HK woman critical after group hit by car on Australian country road

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 March, 2009, 12:00am

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Two Hongkongers and four other people were injured in southern Australia yesterday morning when a car struck them as they walked on a country road, police and hospital officials said.

The group was believed to be heading to work at an orchard at about 8am in Dhurringile when an eastbound car hit them, Victoria state police said.

It was thought the victims, five women and one man, were on a backpacking trip, or a working holiday, a source said.

A hostel is also located on the orchard property, about 170km north of Melbourne, the source added.

The two most severely injured were a Hong Kong woman and a Korean citizen. They were transferred to Melbourne hospitals.

One was airlifted to Royal Melbourne Hospital, a major trauma centre, where she remained in the intensive care unit in critical condition, a hospital spokesman said.

The other was sent to the Alfred Hospital and was listed in serious, but stable condition, an Alfred Hospital spokeswoman said.

A Web report from Australia's The Age newspaper said the Hong Kong woman sustained 'severe head injuries' and identified her as the Royal Melbourne Hospital patient, the most serious case.

The newspaper also named the driver as Nino Atzori, who a family member said had been affected by sun glare when the accident occurred.

The victims, all 20-something backpackers, were staying at Mr Atzori's hostel, the newspaper said.

A Victoria Police spokesman said the driver was questioned at the Shepparton police station before being released 'pending further inquiries'.

The other four victims received treatment at Goulbourn Valley Health in Shepparton, about 20km away from Dhurringile.

The injured patients at the Goulbourn centre included a Hong Kong woman, a Japanese woman, and a British couple, said a hospital spokeswoman - who believed the two Hong Kong women were an aunt and niece, although not far apart in age.

The younger Hong Kong woman was admitted to the intensive care unit at the centre, but was 'bordering on satisfactory'.

The Japanese woman was in the surgical unit, recuperating from an arm fracture. Meanwhile, the British pair, who are boyfriend and girlfriend, were discharged, the spokeswoman said.

A Hong Kong spokesman said the Immigration Department had been in contact with China's representatives in Melbourne.