15 injured after major pile up
An eight-vehicle crash that has injured 15 people and closed State Highway 1 north of Taupo¯ began as a nose-to-tail in traffic.
Police remain at the scene near Wairakei, between Palmer Mill and O¯ ruanui roads.
A spokesperson said that while a full assessment was still being made, initial reports were that a truck crashed into the back of a vehicle, which then shunted a number of other vehicles forward on Saturday.
It was understood one of those shunted vehicles was pushed across the road into oncoming traffic.
A report from the scene is that the most severe injury was to a motorcyclist, who was flown to Waikato Hospital in a serious condition.
Two others were also flown to Waikato Hospital in a serious condition.
A total of 12 other patients were taken by road ambulances to hospitals in Tokoroa and Taupo¯ with moderate to minor injuries.
Eight vehicles were involved, the spokesperson said - not six, as early reports stated.
Tow trucks began removing damaged vehicles from the scene about 3.30pm.
Three ambulances and three rescue helicopters were called to the crash at 12.15pm, St John spokesman Gerard Campbell said, and three people were airlifted from the scene.
The road was blocked in both directions.
The collision involved cars, a motorbike, a van and a small truck possibly carrying fertiliser, Fire and Emergency Northern Communications shift manager Daniel Nicholson said.
At least two people were trapped, he said, and firefighters from Taupo¯ used cutting gear to free them.
Extra firefighters brought in from Rotorua.
Campbell said there were 15 patients in total.
Local diversions were in place and the road was expected to remain shut until at least 4.30pm.
The Serious Crash Unit and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Team were investigating.
The collision took place about 1.5 kilometres north of Palmer Mill Road.
State Highway 1 has had a bad reputation this year with vehicle crashes this year, a small number of them involving motorcyclists. were