Five children have been seriously injured overnight in Matamata, Waikato after a crash involving a stolen vehicle, police say.
Earlier this morning, police said they were investigating after a car was found in a ditch off Morrinsville-Walton Road about 11.55pm yesterday.
Of the five children, aged 10 to 13, four remain in ICU in critical condition and one is in a stable condition.
All five were taken to Waikato Hospital – four by ambulance and one by helicopter.
One of the children is expected to be transferred to Starship Children’s Hospital later today.
Later, police confirmed that their inquiries suggested the vehicle was linked to a burglary on Monday evening in Matamata, Hamilton.
“This information, together with other lines of inquiry, are being assessed by police staff investigating this crash,” said Waikato district commander superintendent Bruce Bird.
“It is too early to provide detail on the cause of the crash itself other than to say speed appears to be a likely factor.”
Police said they were not looking for anybody else in relation to the crash.
The crash site was initially closed to traffic but has since reopened.
Matamata-Piako Mayor Ash Tanner said his thought were with the families.
“We’re thinking of them and hopefully the kids will recover … that’s the main thing.”
He urged people to drive carefully.
“Obviously we’re in the holiday mode but we need to be more vigilant … keep our mind on the driving task so everybody gets to wherever they’re going safe and sound.”