Five Filipinos, including a 10-month-old baby, were among those killed in a road crash near Picton in New Zealand over the weekend, the Philippine embassy in Wellington confirmed Tuesday night.
Two persons, also Filipinos and family members on board the van that the victims were riding in when it crashed head-on with a refrigerated truck, survived, but one suffered grave injuries.
Two other non-Filipinos were killed in the road collision.
“The embassy was shocked and deeply saddened by this tragedy befalling our kababayan. On behalf of the Philippine government, the embassy offers its prayers and condolences to the family and friends of the victims,” the embassy said in a statement.
The embassy has been in contact with authorities since receiving the report last Sunday morning.
“In the morning of Sunday, June 19, the embassy was informed promptly by the New Zealand Interpol of the fatal crash that occurred along State Highway I, Mount Pleasant in Marlborough. Seven persons were killed, while two survived, one of them sustaining grave injuries. The two survivors and five of the fatalities are Filipinos,” the embassy said.
Embassy officials visited the two survivors at the Wellington Regional Hospital to offer help and extend their condolences.
The embassy is coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) headquarters to address the needs of the victims and their family.
“The devastating news has shaken New Zealand as a nation, especially the local Filipino community. The embassy reiterates its assurances of its readiness to assist,” the embassy said.
It also appealed for privacy of the survivors and the family of the fatalities, saying they are “at present in a most vulnerable predicament.”
Meanwhile, a $20,000 reward is being offered for information that will lead to the arrest of the shooter of Filipino lawyer John Albert Laylo, the Philippine consulate general in New York said yesterday.
During a meeting with Philadelphia City Mayor Jim Kenney and local police officials last Tuesday to discuss the investigation, Consul General Elmer Cato said the consulate was told about the reward.
Kenney has expressed his condolences to the Laylo family and gave assurance they would do everything they could to bring justice to whomever is responsible for the lawyer’s death.
Kenney also apologized for the “terrible tragedy.”
Laylo’s mother, Leah Bustamante Laylo, told the consulate that the remains of her son would be flown to Manila on June 28.
Last Tuesday, Laylo’s family said the fatal shooting of the 35-year-old lawyer in Philadelphia could be a case of mistaken identity.