A man was in a life-threatening condition last night after a horrific head-on crash on a busy Moray road.
The motorist was airlifted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness following the two-car smash, which left three others in a serious condition.
The accident happened just after 4pm on the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness road, at the Threaplands junction near Lhanbryde.
Two Vauxhall Corsa cars were involved in the smash, one of which had a foreign registration plate.
The impact crumpled both cars’ bonnets and sent debris scattering across the thoroughfare.
It is understood both vehicles contained a male driver and female passenger.
Fire crews from Elgin and Fochabers raced to the scene and used cutting equipment to remove the roofs of both Corsas and free the victims from the wreckage.
Four ambulances and a helicopter were called to the scene, and the air ambulance carried the man with the most severe injuries to Raigmore at around 5.30pm.
The three others were taken by ambulance to Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin but have since been transferred to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
Last night a police spokesman confirmed all four wounded parties sustained “serious injuries”.
A spokesman for the fire service said: “At 4.10pm we sent three appliances to the scene of the crash, two from Elgin and one from Fochabers.
“Four people were released from their vehicles, and were left in the care of paramedics.
“A stop message came through at 5.20pm and by 5.55pm they had left the scene.”
Last night, Fochabers Lhanbryde councillor Sean Morton said locals had been deeply concerned by the unfolding incident.
Mr Morton said: “Everyone is shocked by this, and very worried for the four individuals that have been hurt.
“It certainly seemed like quite a large-scale incident, and that has caused a lot of concern in the community.
“I would extend my thoughts to everyone affected and I hope everyone involved makes a speedy recovery.”
Mr Morton said the stretch of road where the incident took place was not known for accidents, but that motorists had to be careful when approaching some bends.
Rush-hour commuters faced lengthy diversions as police investigators scoured the scene in an effort to uncover the circumstances of the crash.
The A96 was closed in both directions between Lhanbryde and Mosstodloch, and diversions were put in place to allow collision investigators to examine the scene.
Westbound motorists had to leave the A96 at Mosstodloch, travel south down the B9015 and along the B9103 before returning to the main road.
Drivers heading east had to pass through Lhanbryde and travel along the Garmouth road and the B9015 to return to the A96.