Investigators have admitted it will take a “lengthy process” to identify the six passengers killed in a car crash due to the severity of the collision.
An all-terrain vehicle collided with a road train on the Stuart Highway near a small town in the Katherine region on Friday afternoon.
All six occupants of the Mitsubishi 4WD were killed, including four children.
The driver and passenger of the truck escaped with non-life-threatening injuries.
Police are scrambling to determine the cause of the crash which became the Northern Territory’s deadliest collision in 16 years.
Investigators admit it will take a “long process” to identify the mutilated bodies due to the severity of the accident.
Investigators face the daunting task of identifying the six victims of the Northern Territory’s deadliest road crash in more than 16 years.
“This was a confrontational accident which resulted in significant loss of life,” Detective Senior Sergeant Brendan Lindner said.
“Due to the severity of the accident, identifying those who died will likely be a lengthy process as we work to bring closure to the families involved and understand how the accident occurred.”
Police Commissioner Michael Murphy said Monday it would be a significant investigation.
“We understand it could be a Northern Territory family,” he told ABC radio.
“A very complex and lengthy investigation is underway to identify these people.”
Police Commissioner Murphy shared his condolences and sincere thanks to the emergency services who were first on the scene of the devastating accident.
“Our thoughts are with the extended family and those who responded to the incident – the police, fire, emergency services, St John, not just (them) but also the two surviving men from the truck,” did he declare.
“Their level of heroism too, because they tried to do everything they could but could not, because of the fire, save lives.
“They were taken to Katherine District Hospital, treated for minor injuries, physical injuries, but I imagine the psychological injuries will be lasting for these (men).”
Authorities received reports of a collision between a truck and a car along Stuart Highway, about 7 miles south of Pine Creek, around 4:15 p.m.
“Several people in the SUV died at the scene, and the recovery process began this morning,” NT Police said in a statement on Saturday.
NT Police reopened the Stuart Highway on Sunday after significant delays in the area over the weekend.
On Friday, Sgt Lindner urged anyone traveling in the area between 2.30pm and 4.45pm with dashcam footage to contact police.
Anyone with information on the identity and movements of the occupants of the 4×4 is also invited to come forward.
There were 19 lives lost on NT roads in 2023.
Territory Expeditions tour driver Daniel Hall spotted the plume of smoke several miles down the highway, prompting him to rush to the scene.
Police have confirmed that six people, including a young child, died after a 4×4 crashed into a road train on Friday (photo, accident site).
He said NT News that a few minutes after the accident, other drivers stopped to coordinate traffic and provide first aid to the driver of the Shaw road train.
But no one could save those inside the Mitsubishi.
“Anyone who was in that car had no chance of surviving or being rescued in any way,” Mr Hall said.
“The whole car was a big ball of fire.
“Those people, they didn’t have a chance.”
Two people in the truck managed to escape and were treated for minor injuries at the Royal Darwin Hospital.
Mr Hall said one of the survivors had “cuts and bruises everywhere” and a look of “utter devastation” in his eyes.
“As his road train burned…he had this look on his face that he had narrowly escaped with his life,” he said.