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Two dead in Gisborne plane crash

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/12/2016

Two men are dead and an investigation has been launched following an airplane crash that may leave Gisborne without electricity for two days.

Both men aboard the small top-dressing aircraft died when it struck high-voltage powerlines in the rural area of Hangaroa at about 9am on Monday and crashed about 2.5km further on, the Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed.

"The aircraft was 'burnt out' as a result of the accident," CAA spokesman Mike Richards said.

The managing director of Farmers Air - which owns the plane - Andrew Hogarth, in a statement said the pair were an experienced pilot and loader driver.

"The company apologises for the inconvenience that this accident has caused others," he said.

Police area commander, Inspector Sam Aberahama, said next of kin had been notified and work was under way to formally identify and recover the bodies.

Three crash investigators will fly out to the scene, in difficult terrain about 30km north-east of Wairoa, on Tuesday morning to try to determine the cause.

"CAA investigators will be taken to the crash scene [Tuesday] morning and will need to be lowered down by winch from a helicopter to be able to access the site," Mr Richards said.


The crash has cut electricity to 20,000 homes and companies in Gisborne City and the Tairawhiti region, transmission company Eastland Network said.

Its general manager, Brent Stewart, said the plane hit the mid-span of the 110kV line between Tuai to Gisborne, damaging the only circuits in the area.

Repair crews are hoping to have powered restored by the end of Tuesday, but a longer outage was possible, Tairawhiti Civil Defence said.

"We still advise people that they could be without power for possibly two days or more," Tairawhiti Civil Defence controller Patrick Willock said.

"Heavy machinery has been mobilised to give access to the site. The crews will work through the night, if not on the line then prepping materials ready for the repairs."

Police say officers will be out in force overnight - with extra patrols and staff rostered on - and the Gisborne Central Police Station will remain open 24/7 until power was restored.

Residents are being warned to save water, cook using gas, keep fridges closed and to turn all appliances off at the wall.

Generators are being installed at petrol stations, fast food outlets and cellphone towers to allow mobile use.

Gisborne Hospital remains open and parents are being told to check whether schools will be open on Tuesday.

Separate generators currently supplying the East Coast would be cut from 2pm to 6pm and then again at 8pm, Civil Defence said.

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