Rockfall kills passenger near Piopio

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 12:48 28/03/2014

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A woman was killed when a rockfall struck the car she was travelling in, in the Waikato this morning.

The car, which was heading north on State Highway 3 between Mahoenui and Pio Pio, was struck by a rockfall from a cliff above the roadway at about 10.30am today, police said.

The woman, 76, died at the scene, while the driver of the car escaped with minimal injury.

Police said the road would be closed for several days while the area was made safe.

Diversions are in place - southbound traffic can leave SH3 at Aria Road before continuing onto Totoro Road and then back onto SH3.

Northbound traffic will exit SH3 at Totoro Road before taking Aria and then returning to SH3. 

Meanwhile, earlier today, one person was critically injured and another suffered serious injuries when their car rolled in Aria, King Country.

Both people were trapped in the vehicle's wreckage and fire fighters were still working to cut the pair free an hour after arrival.

They were left fighting for their lives, Senior Sergeant Pete van de Wetering said. Emergency services were called to State Highway 4 near Ramaroa Rd about 7.40am.

A resident was approached to raise the alarm on a land line due to the poor cell phone coverage in the area, Wetering said.

"Initial reports suggest a Toyota Prado had left the road."

The SUV rolled leaving the two occupants critically and seriously injured. Fire fighters from Benneydale, Piopio and Te Kuiti responded to the scene and an hour later they were still using cutting equipment to extract the patients.

The Westpac Waikato Rescue Helicopter was called to attend but ground fog forced the evacuation flight call to be diverted elsewhere.

Mr Wetering said in these situations emergency responders endeavour to get people vital treatment within what's known as the Golden Hour but sometimes weather such as fog can get in the way.

"The nature of the terrain and roading network meant there were issues setting up diversions so traffic was opened to one lane but anyone in the area can expect delays and if possible police ask motorists to avoid the area.'' 

The Westpac Waikato Rescue Helicopter was called to attend but ground fog forced the evacuation flight call to be diverted elsewhere.

Mr Wetering said in these situations emergency responders endeavour to get people vital treatment within what's known as the Golden Hour but sometimes weather such as fog can get in the way.

"The nature of the terrain and roading network meant there were issues setting up diversions so traffic was opened to one lane but anyone in the area can expect delays and if possible police ask motorists to avoid the area.'' 

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- Waikato

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