A road diversion set up to bypass the scene of a fatal crash near Dannevirke had to be closed for safety reasons.

State Highway 2, between Dannevirke and Norsewood, was closed for more than four hours yesterday after a crash in which one person died and another had to be flown to hospital.

Two cars collided near Piripiri Rd, north of Dannevirke, just before 6.30am.

Closed: Traffic being stopped at the Mangatera end of Dannevirke's High St, to be diverted because of a fatal motor vehicle accident at Piripiri. Photo/Christine McKay
Closed: Traffic being stopped at the Mangatera end of Dannevirke's High St, to be diverted because of a fatal motor vehicle accident at Piripiri. Photo/Christine McKay

Otanga and Riverdale roads were used as a detour east of the main road, but this had to be abandoned because of dangers posed by the amount of traffic and the narrow and winding conditions.

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Taking the diversion proved to be a long drive for Norsewood resident Heather Cheer, on her way to volunteer stint at the Fantasy Cave.

She said it took an hour and a quarter to make the short trip from Norsewood before the diversions were closed for safety reasons.

"Traffic was going too fast on those windy, narrow roads," she said. "And even though I was assured I wouldn't come across any trucks, there were a couple who had made it along the diversion. It was scary and dangerous."

Police said yesterday the diversion was not suitable for trucks and they would have to wait for the main road to reopen.

A woman, understood to be in the early to mid 20s and from the area, had to be extracted from a vehicle by the Dannevirke Volunteer Fire Brigade before being flown by rescue helicopter to Palmerston North Hospital.

She was last night reported to be in a stable condition under intensive care.

While the nationwide road toll for 2018 is more than 10 per cent up on the total for last year up to April 19, the tolls are down in both the Eastern Region (East Cape to Norsewood) and Manawatu-Wanganui, which includes the Tararua District in which yesterday's fatality occurred.