Three cancer patients on their way back from a treatment center have been killed after their mini bus collided with a trailer in one of the worst accidents in Tasmania’s history.

The trailer, which was originally being towed by a truck, came loose while the truck was driving at high speed along a Tasmanian highway, before smashing into the front of the minibus. The bus then span out of control and smashed into an electrical pole.

Two passengers, an elderly man and an elderly woman, were found dead on the scene when rescue services and the police arrived yesterday, with a third person dying while in surgery at a local hospital shortly afterwards. Two further passengers, as well as the volunteer bus driver, were seriously injured, and were transported by ambulance to Mersey General Hospital and Launceston General Hospital, according to Sergeant Fox. All three remain in a critical condition.

The accident occurred on the Bass Highway in Elizabeth Town at around 1pm on Wednesday afternoon. The minibus, which was operated by non-profit organization Cancer Council, was transporting nine cancer patients from the WP Holman Clinic at Launceston General Hospital, where they had been receiving treatment. The bus was en route back to Devonport when the accident occurred, around 10km west of the town of Deloraine.

According to Sergeant Craig Fox, a senior member of the Elizabeth Town police department, rescue teams responded promptly to the accident, only to find mayhem on the highway.

“It was a very shocking scene, numerous injuries, general public who drove across the accident, witnesses. There were a lot of distraught people,” Fox said.  Members of the public had to be calmed down and dispersed from the scene by police officials.

The chief executive officer for Cancer Council Tasmania, Mr. Simon Barnsley, has expressed his distress at the accident, and said that the organization has been deeply saddened by the news. Barnsley also offered condolences on behalf of the staff and volunteers of Cancer Council Tasmania to the families of the deceased.

Dr. Stan Gauden, the director of the WP Holman clinic where the patients were receiving treatment has also expressed his sadness at the deaths and injuries incurred in the accident. Both Cancer Councial and the Launceston General Hospital will be available to provide support to family members of those who died or were injured in the accident.

This accident is the worst on Tasmanian roads since July 2009, when nine people were killed on the Midland Highway.

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