Boy, 4, and four adults die as minibus and 4x4 crash on A96 in Moray
Five people, including a four-year-old boy, have died and several others were injured when a minibus and 4x4 crashed in Moray.
The collision happened on the A96, three miles from Keith, on the road to Huntly, at about 23:40 on Thursday.
Three local people in a Nissan X-Trail - two women aged 69 and 70 and a man aged 63 - died in the crash.
The young boy and a woman, who also died, were in the minibus, which was carrying Italian tourists.
A three-year-old boy and four other adults were being treated in hospital, police said, with one woman in a critical condition.
It was believed the people in the Nissan were all friends and coming from a social occasion.
Potential witnesses who were in the area at the time were urged to contact police.
Supt Louise Blakelock, of Police Scotland, said: "It is with deep regret that I can confirm that three adult passengers - two women aged 69 and 70 and a 63-year-old man - who were travelling within an orange Nissan X-Trail all sadly died from their injuries.
"The 39-year-old female driver sustained serious injuries. Everyone in this car was local to this area.
"A white Fiat Talento minibus which had been carrying Italian tourists was also involved in the collision.
"Tragically two people who were passengers within this vehicle - a woman and a four-year-old boy - have also died.
"The male driver, a male passenger, female passenger and a three-year-old boy, who were also within the minibus, were taken to hospital with a variety of injuries. The woman is considered to be in a critical condition. The little boy sustained minor injuries and is being well cared for."
The officer said: "The dreadful scene faced by the emergency responders from police, fire and ambulance and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency was both distressing and extremely challenging for everyone involved.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who made valiant attempts to save the casualties lives - their efforts cannot be underestimated. I would also like to thank members of the public who came upon this terrible incident, who phoned the emergency services and provided first aid and comfort."
Supt Blakelock added: "Every loss of life on our roads is a tragedy however when so many are killed in one incident the impact on their families, their friends and our entire community is massive.
"Our thoughts are with everyone who has been involved or affected.
"An investigation is ongoing into the exact circumstances so it would wrong for me to speculate further at this time and I am unable to answer questions regarding details of what may have happened.
"I would however ask anyone who was in the area last night and saw either vehicle involved in the lead-up to this incident to please contact the Police on 101. Likewise, if you have dashcam footage that may assist please get in touch with us."
The Italian Counsul General for Scotland Carlo Perrotta said relatives of the Italian holidaymakers were travelling to Scotland.
He said: "It is absolutely distressing. Words cannot tell how sad we are to hear these stories, and to have to report to the authorities in Italy and to the families, especially in summer time when people come to Scotland to enjoy this wonderful land and to enjoy the holiday they have been looking forward to the whole year."
The road remained closed overnight. The vehicles were removed on Friday morning and the A96 re-opened shortly before 13:00.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said: "This is a truly horrific accident that has shocked the community.
"The fact that there are so many casualties has been difficult for people to take in, and with such a loss of life everyone's thoughts are with those affected and their loved ones and friends at this difficult time.
"I pay tribute to the emergency services who dealt with what was a major road traffic accident."