A 44-year-old man was flown to hospital after a crash near Wairoa shortly before dawn yesterday.

The man was a passenger in a van which hit the side of the Ohinepaka railway overhead bridge on State Highway 2, about 9km west of Wairoa. Emergency services were called at 5.14am and a volunteer fire crew from Wairoa extracted the man before he was taken by St John Ambulance to Wairoa Hospital, from where he was flown by the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter to Hawke's Bay Hospital in Hastings.

The man was in a serious condition last night.

Another man was also taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital and was in a stable condition. The driver of the van and at least one other passenger were understood to have not required hospital treatment.

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The men in the van were vineyard workers from the Gisborne area, and were travelling back from Napier to work, a police spokesman said.