(Reuters) - Three Boston University students were killed and five more were injured in New Zealand on Saturday when a van they were traveling in swerved off the road outside the vacation town of Taupo, the university said in a statement.

The accident occurred about 7:30 a.m. New Zealand time on Saturday morning while the students were "on a weekend trip to the countryside," the university said.

"This is a horrible tragedy. Our prayers go out to the students and their families," said Boston University President Robert Brown. "The university is mobilizing all of our resources to help our students and families deal with this tragedy."

The university cited a New Zealand police spokesperson, who said one of the two minivans the students were traveling in drifted left onto gravel, over corrected, and rolled over.

The deceased students were identified as Daniela Lekhno, Roch Jauberty, and Austin Brashears, according to the American vice consul in Auckland, BU's statement said.

Another student, Margaret Theriault, was airlifted from the crash site to a hospital in Taupo. Four other students - Stephen Houseman, Alys McAlpine, Emily Melton, and Kathy Moldawer - suffered less serious injuries, the statement said.

(Reporting By Edith Honan; Editing by Greg McCune and Todd Eastham)