A woman died and another was severely injured when the SUV they were in crashed into a fence and rolled into a drain near Gisborne today.
Te Karaka chief fire officer Jamie Simpson said the SUV went off the road on a straight stretch of State Highway 2, between Bond and Ngakoroa Rds, just after 5am.
"It was heading towards Gisborne and appears to have rolled as it left the road, hitting a fence before ending up in the drain."
St John ambulance transported a 41-year-old woman, who was thrown from car, to hospital. She suffered severe multiple injuries.
The woman was admitted to the intensive care unit at Gisborne Hospital, where her condition is described as "serious".
The other woman died at the scene.
"Unfortunately, the crash happened just short of a section of new safety barriers that have been put in place along that section of SH2," said Simpson.
The highway was closed for five hours and traffic was detoured via Lavenham Rd and Patutahi.
Police said it was too early to comment on the likely cause of the crash.
The victims' next of kin are still to be informed.