One person has died and three others were left clinging to a car roof after the vehicle ended up in a Masterton river early this morning.

Rescue helicopters, local police and firefighters sent to winch the trio to safety from the Waipoua River.

The trio has been airlifted to hospital.

The deceased person was still in the car, which left Paierau Rd and ended up in the river around 4am.

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Police inspector Mike Coleman said the cause of the accident was not yet known.

The surrounding roads are closed and police have asked people in the area to delay their travels or take an alternate route.