Parts of Gisborne may be without power for “two days or more” after an aircraft hit high-voltage power lines on Monday morning, killing its two occupants.
Tairawhiti Civil Defence warned at 12.30pm for residents and businesses to prepare to be without power for possibly two days or more.
Just before 1pm, Andrew Hogarth, of topdressing company Farmers Air, confirmed its pilot and loader driver had died at the scene, north of Wairoa, in northern Hawke’s Bay.
Hogarth said both men were very experienced, and that it had informed the Civil Aviation Authority.
He apologised for the inconvenience that the accident had caused others.
Eastland Network had advised that all six lines of its 110kV transmission line from Wairoa to Gisborne had been affected by the crash, near Tiniroto.
Teams from the network were assessing the line but the 800-metre section affected had difficult access.
The East Coast is being run on generators at the moment.
Tairawhiti Civil Defence said at 1.45pm that generators were being installed at cellphone towers in the Gisborne district, and advised people to text, rather than call, to save power.
Rescue helicopters from both Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne were at the scene of the crash.
Wainui Beach School, in Gisborne, was sending pupils home due to the power outage.
In a post on its Facebook page, parents were advised to collect their children as the lack of power and running water was a safety concern.
Gisborne city councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown lived on the main highway between Gisborne and Wairoa and had seen many emergency vehicles speeding past.
Polly Cameron who lives on Ruakaka Rd, where the crash occurred, said she saw the plane fly over her house about 8.30am on Monday.
“It looked normal. It was flying at its normal height,” she said.
The area the plane went down was popular with pig hunters and she understood the plane had gone down in bush in the rugged terrain.
Emergency services were notified when the plane’s emergency location transmitter went off just after 9am.
The transmitter is activated when an aircraft suffers a sharp jolt, he said.
Farmers Air operates from Northern Hawke’s Bay to East Cape in the North Island and Canterbury, Otago and Southland in the South Island.
According to its website, safety was of paramount concern to the company: “Safety is a critical part of our industry and operating safely with modern equipment allows us to deliver critical returns to our clientele.”
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