AN investigation is under way after a woman died when a coal lorry crashed into a block of flats.

Catherine Bonner, 55, died at the scene after the truck veered off the A78 and bulldozed into the ground floor flat in Main Road, Fairlie, Ayrshire.

She is understood to have been trapped for more than three hours as specially trained rescue teams battled to save her.

Emergency teams were communicating with the woman while the rescue attempt was taking place. But she later died.

Her partner James McColl, 60, was taken to Inverclyde General Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries.

The couple were in their living room, with their dog, when the truck left the road and smashed into their home. It is understood the couple moved to the seaside town from Glasgow about a year ago.

The 54-year-old driver of the lorry was also taken to hospital. He also suffered minor injuries.

Police said one other man, who was in the building at the time, escaped unhurt.

The inside of the property became exposed after the impact of the crash reduced the wall to rubble.

Police said the ground floor of the building was "seriously damaged" and deemed structurally unsound.

A North Ayrshire Council spokesman said: "We have sent a structural engineer to assess the condition of the building

Residents of the village, which has a population of about 1600, spoke of their shock at the crash.

Callum Calvey, 26, lives above the couple in the second floor flat. He said: "I was really worried about them, especially when I heard the woman was trapped.

"I think she was trapped under the lorry the whole time."

Mr Calvey, a tree surgeon, was working in Kilbirnie when the lorry struck the property yesterday afternoon.

He said: "My friend texted me a picture of my bath hanging outside the building. I have no idea what I am going to do."

The A78 was closed in both directions between the north of Fairlie and Hunterston.

Steve Graham, 56, chairman of Fairlie Community Council, said: "We as a community council have been campaigning for years to stop the amount of traffic and heavy vehicles coming through the village to get to the Hunterston Coal Terminal.

"The road can't take it and it was just a matter of time before something like this happened on this killer road."