A man and a woman have died following a horrific road crash in Co Down.
The victims’ car collided with an unoccupied lorry on the A1 between Newry and Loughbrickland at lunchtime yesterday.
The lorry was understood to have been parked on the hard shoulder when the car hit it at around 1.30pm.
The man had been driving the car, with the woman in the front passenger seat.
Emergency services were greeted with a scene of horror when they arrived at the site of the crash at the bottom of a downward slope of the busy dual carriageway.
The grey-coloured Volkswagen hatchback car appeared to have become lodged beneath the rear of the lorry trailer, leading to the roof being caved in.
Rescue crews are thought to have used specialist equipment to remove the doors and roof in order to gain access to the occupants of the vehicle.
Traffic diversions were put in place for several hours and motorists were urged to avoid the area.
The deaths bring the number of people killed on Northern Ireland’s roads so far this year to 64, an increase on last year, when 58 people were killed by the same date.
Local councillor Willfred McFadden said people living nearby were shocked.
“The traffic is quite fast on that stretch, but there haven’t been many accidents there of late,” he said.
“Whenever it was single carriageway before the new road was opened there were fatalities.
“I am deeply grieved that there have been two deaths. Any fatality grieves us, and I would send my deepest sympathy to all involved in this tragedy.
“With all the money that has been spent on that road it is terrible that this has happened.”
Fellow Banbridge councillor Seamus Doyle said it was a “terrible” accident to happen during the holiday period.
He said: “It’s a brand new dual carriageway and a fairly fast piece of road.
He added: “People have to be very vigilant, especially on a high speed road like that.”