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The driver of a truck and trailer unit heading out of Gisborne was killed early this morning when his vehicle crashed on State Highway 2, about halfway through the Waioeka Gorge.
The accident happened shortly after midnight.
Emergency services were notified at 12.20am.
The crash happened at a spot about 30 kilometres into the gorge from the Opotiki side.
"The truck rolled and completely blocked the highway," said fire service spokesman Scott Osmond.
"We were notified by a driver who came upon the accident scene and drove to the nearest house to raise the alarm."
The fire service in Opotiki responded with two appliances.
"The deceased driver was trapped in the cab and fire crews had to free his body from the vehicle with spreaders and cutting gear," Mr Osmond said.
"They were on site for more than six hours altogether."
The truck was carrying a load of empty pallets, and was on its way north from Gisborne.
"The truck and trailer left Gisborne at about 10pm last night," Whakatane police said.
"It went out of control and struck the hillside."
The highway was closed until mid-morning while a crane was used to recover the vehicle.
Police said a serious crash investigation was under way.
"Our commercial vehicle unit investigator is also involved in the inquiry."
Police expected their examination of the accident scene to take much of the day.
- Gisborne Herald