Crews struggle to find truck crash driver

MYLES HUME AND ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 11:42 16/07/2014
Iain McGregor

Truck crash on SH1 north of Cheviot.

Truck crashes over bank near Conway River
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ
WRECKED: The battered truck lies at the bottom of the bank after crashing through the highway safety barrier.
Truck crashes over bank near Conway River
Westpac Rescue Helicopter
DIFFICULT SCENE: Rescue workers work to rescue the driver of truck which has rolled about 45m down a bank.
Truck crash near Kaikoura
Emma Dangerfield/Fairfax NZ
STEEP PLUNGE: The bank into which the truck crashed about 5.30am this morning.

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Rescue teams are still struggling to find the driver of a truck more than five hours after it plummeted 45 metres down a steep bank near Kaikoura this morning.

The incident is causing major traffic delays in both directions on State Highway 1.

The southbound truck went off the road about 5.30am above the Hundalee Stream, just north of the Claverley Rd and SH1 intersection, in Hundalee.

Sergeant Graeme Crosson said a Christchurch crane company had arrived and was working to stablise the "badly damaged" truck before hauling it up to the road.

He expected the road to fully close later today when the crane was in operation.

He said it was believed the man was still inside the wreckage, but the steep terrain was making access difficult.

Rescue gear needed to be used so firefighters could abseil down and reach the scene earlier today.

Crosson said early indications showed the truck struck a bank on the passenger side before crossing the northbound lane and falling 45m down the bank.

A Fire Service spokesman said there was no sign of the driver after crews from Cheviot and Kaikoura pulled apart the cab with the jaws of life.

"We understand this is a freight truck, and the only concern we had was that there were class eight dangerous goods on board, which are corrosive substances. But we have been able to locate them and secure them," the spokesman said.

Firefighters left the scene about 9.30am, leaving the situation under the supervision of police.

The highway was temporarily closed to allow a Westpac Rescue Helicopter to land, but the road has now reopened to a single lane.

A stop/go system will be in place to allow traffic to flow both ways.

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- The Press

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