A motorist was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries following a horror five-vehicle crash last night.
Two vans and three cars were involved in the pile-up on the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness road outside Forres at about 5pm.
An air ambulance was scrambled to the scene amid reports of several casualties requiring urgent attention.
One motorist, who had suffered the most severe injuries, was flown to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) in the helicopter while others were taken to Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin.
Police sealed off a stretch of the trunk route between the Forres Enterprise Park and the roundabout leading to Findhorn for the remainder of the night as accident investigators arrived from Aberdeenshire to try to piece together what happened.
Forres councillor, George Alexander, last night said the thoughts of the people in the town were with everyone affected by the crash.
He said: “We can only hope that the casualty who was flown to ARI has not suffered any life-threatening injuries.”
Mr Alexander added that he was puzzled as to how the incident could have taken place.
He said: “There is good visibility heading towards Forres from the roundabout at the Enterprise Park, and I don’t think the weather could have been a factor.
“It is a mystery to me how this could have happened.”
The collision involved a silver Nissan van, a Peugeot, a Ford C-Max, a Ford Fiesta and a Ford Transit van.
The silver Ford Transit van and red Ford Fiesta appeared to have come into collision head-on at some force, and both vehicles were left with significant damage to the front.
Both the van and the car were left at an angle, blocking the carriageway.
The airbags of both vehicles had deployed upon impact and the road was left scattered with debris.
As police scoured the scene of the crash, the road was sealed off and scores of rush-hour motorists had to take a diversion via Kinloss in order to return to the A96.
Stagecoach advised customers that the number 10 service would experience delays as the bus followed the diversion before returning to the main road.
The firm apologised that Forres Enterprise Park could not be served while the stretch of road remained closed.
A spokeswoman for the fire service confirmed that crews from Forres and Elgin attended but were only required to clear up debris and left shortly before 6pm.
The incident followed the death of a pedestrian on a stretch of the Forres bypass earlier this month.
Paul Bell, 58, was struck by a van near Christies Elite Nursery on the morning of Monday, January 7.
On Tuesday, two people were taken to hospital following a five -vehicle crash between Forres and Elgin on the A96.