Two people were killed in a “horrible” crash at a State Highway 3 intersection in Taranaki this morning.

Police believe the pair were both women, and each were driving their respective cars. Their ages are unclear at this stage.

This evening, police confirmed they were the only two people involved in the crash.

South Taranaki Response Manager Senior Sergeant Andrew Russ said the disaster victim identification unit had finished its assessment late this afternoon.

It found the drivers were the only people in the vehicles.

“Our thoughts are with the victims’ families at this incredibly difficult time,” Russ said.

One of the women was believed to be from Eltham.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand confirmed to 1News this morning that a vehicle was on fire when first responders arrived at the scene.

Russ earlier told 1News: “Emergency service were called just before 6am this morning.

“We believe the northbound car has crossed the centre line and collided head on with the southbound vehicle.

“The north bound vehicle was then caught alight… and when fire and police has arrived it’s been fully engulfed.”

Hato Hone St John confirmed two ambulances were sent, and two helicopters and rapid response vehicles were requested — but those were stood down.

Waka Kotahi said in a post on X the crash happened near the intersection with Mountain Rd at around 6am.

Location of the crash in Taranaki on December 31

State Highway 3 at Eltham has since reopened.

Police said an investigation by the serious crash unit is ongoing.

Asked about the impact of the crash on the community, Russ said: “It’s going to be horrible for them.

“They’re going to have loved ones that aren’t coming home to see them today… that’s just horrible.”