UPDATED 3.01am: Gas contractors are still at the Te Puke site where a gas line was ruptured, working on the leak as eager families and residents wait to return to their homes.

Residents from Stewart St were evacuated after the gas line was hit with a bobcat about 1.45pm. They remain waiting at cordons at both ends of the road.

Police at the scene have told the Bay of Plenty Times the leak would take about another 15 minutes to be clamped. Residents were expected to return to their homes then.

The bobcat was being used in the construction of a retaining wall, police said.


EARLIER: Houses and a preschool have been evacuated after a digger ruptured a gas main in Te Puke.

A fire service northern communications center spokesperson said the digger had hit a gas main in Stewart St and residential addresses were being evacuated until the gas company arrived.

Police and fire fighters are at the scene.