13 Dec 2016

Gisborne's power now 'fully restored'

8:33 pm on 13 December 2016

A power cut that affected about 40,000 people in Gisborne and the East Coast following yesterday's double-fatality plane crash is over.

"Now Cooking": The power is being restored to Gisborne, including this pizza joint on Gladstone Rd, after more than 30 hours without it.

'Now Cooking': Domino's Pizza on Gladstone Rd in Gisborne is among the businesses back in action. Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

The topdressing plane hit powerlines near Tiniroto, west of the city, yesterday morning, killing the two men on board.

The bodies of the pilot, George Anderson, and his loader, who has not yet been named, were recovered from the scene of the crash today.

Eastland Network general manager Brent Stewart said electricity was fully restored shortly before 7pm, more than 30 hours after the lights went out.

"We are delighted to have the power restored, but our thoughts remain with the families of the two men who lost their lives as a result of the plane crash."

Mr Stewart asked residents to turn appliances off at the wall, and switch them on again, if they had not already done so.

He said the power would need to be turned off again in the next few days to complete repairs.

"We're currently working through plans to determine when this will happen and how long the outage will be when it does.

"In the meantime, the advice we're giving is that if you have a generator in place you may want to disconnect it, but we suggest you do not return it hastily, wait until we have made that announcement tomorrow."

Emergency generators were earlier providing power to rest homes, food and fuel outlets.

Gisborne Hospital was overloaded with calls during the outage and set up a new phone number - 06 869 0528.

Gisborne civil defence emergency manager Louise Bennett said earlier that tricky terrain, strong winds and rain were making it a difficult job for lines crews.

Business owners frustrated

Dave Wallace, who owns two businesses in Gisborne, said he could not understand why there had been no back-up power plan.

His son was scheduled to have a wrist operation at the hospital today.

"We went in for his operation, which he's been waiting six months for, and they decided they couldn't operate because the theatre wasn't room temperature," he said.

"I'm a bit flabbergasted and this is just one of the ongoing issues."

Rajesh Mehta, who owns a fruit and vegetable store, said he faced a substantial stock loss as a result of the lack of back-up.

Fruit and vegetable store owner Rajesh Mehta said the outage would cost him tens of thousands of dollars. Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

Rajesh Mehta, who owns a fruit and vegetable store, said he faced a substantial stock loss as a result of the lack of back-up.

"Tens of thousands of dollars. Because it's all chilled, and we stock fresh and frozen stuff. It won't be fully insured, because there is a limit on how much frozen stock would be insured for."

Mr Mehta also owns a service station, and said it had been extremely busy since 6am.

Katrina Rangihuna said she was doing her best to keep things normal for her children, who were off school.

"It's kinda hard because we didn't get paid today. My husband's wages didn't come in so I'm thinking we're probably going to be living on noodles and eggs until then," she said.

Police said there were incidents of crime and many call-outs in the blacked-out city last night.

They had increased their numbers on the ground, and the area commander, Sam Aberahama, said there had been three burglaries overnight.

Shops are closed in central Gisborne due to the power outage.

Shops were closed today in central Gisborne due to the power outage. Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

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