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Hunter Valley bus crash company depots raided

New fund for Hunter Valley bus victims

The bus company at the centre of the horror Hunter Valley crash has been hit with defect and infringement notices after a snap police raid on two depots.

Twenty buses at the Linq Busline depots were inspected late Thursday at compounds in Wyong, on the NSW Central Coast, and East Gresford near Newcastle.

The snap audit involved police investigators and National Heavy Vehicle Regulator inspectors.

Seven defect and two infringement notices were issued after a cracked windscreen, oil leaks, inoperative seatbelts and vehicle lights and insecure seats were found.

Defect notices mean a problem needs to be fixed before the vehicle can be driven.

“The joint operation involved a comprehensive audit of documentation relating to fatigue, driver management, vehicle servicing and maintenance records, and safety management systems,” NSW Police said in a statement on Thursday night.

Linq said in a statement that “one major defect identified in the fleet has been rectified” and minor defects were being rectified according to timelines set by the regulator.

Sunday night’s wedding bus tragedy near Greta killed 10 people, and nine others remain in hospital and are stable.

On Thursday night, devastated family and friends of the victims gathered near the accident site to grieve and thank frontline workers.

Most of the 25 survivors treated in hospitals have been discharged.

More than 900 donations have been made since Wednesday to a fund for survivors, victims and their immediate families, with almost $500,000 raised.

The insurer managing the crash compensation claims is being urged to ensure extended family and friends of the victims receive support.

Only those directly involved in the crash or who had suffered psychological trauma due to the death or severe injury of a close relative are eligible for support under NSW’s compulsory third-party scheme.

Slater and Gordon lawyer Doug Williams called on the insurer to show compassion to those who have suffered due to the crash.

“It’s (the scheme) so limited that the close friends and the extended family, as well as members of the small community where many of those killed lived, would be ineligible to claim treatment,” he said.

The community of Singleton has been hardest hit by the disaster, with seven locals among the 10 people killed when the privately chartered bus crashed following a wedding at Wandin Estate Winery.

Cessnock mayor Jay Suvaal said the community would come together on Thursday night to support the loved ones of those lost in the crash and pay tribute to the first responders.

“We’re a really tight-knit community that does come together and support each other in times of need,” he said.

Locals have offered accommodation and support for victims and their families.

“People are just dropping in things like cake and biscuits to our crisis centres to make sure there’s food available for the people there,” Mr Suvaal said.

Mourners continue to make the sad pilgrimage to a makeshift memorial at the crash site, which is strewn with a growing pile of flowers, cards and teddy bears.

Counselling and support is being offered at centres in Singleton and Branxton.

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park said mental health services would remain available for as long as they were needed.

“What I do know about these types of traumatic and devastating events is that often it’s not in the hours and days afterwards where people need additional support – it’s often in the weeks and months,” he said on Thursday.

“They’ve been through unimaginable grief and suffering.”

Many of the victims were closely involved with the Singleton Roosters AFL club and the AFL Central Coast has cancelled its seniors matches this weekend out of respect.

Sydney Swans players will wear black armbands at this weekend’s match against the Lions in memory of the victims.

“We are deeply saddened by the horrific events over the weekend,” Swans chief Tom Harley said.

The bus driver, Brett Button, 58, faced Cessnock Local Court on Tuesday charged with 10 counts of dangerous driving causing death.

Anyone wanting to support the families and injured with a donation is encouraged to visit rawcs.org.au.

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