Investigators will this morning begin combing through the wreckage of a plane crash that killed two people and cut power to 20,000 homes in the Gisborne region.
Residents forced into darkness were last night queuing at petrol stations and fast food outlets, where Civil Defence had delivered emergency generators.
Schools were advised to close until power is restored - expected to be tonight at the earliest - and Gisborne Hospital asked people to see their GPs unless it was an emergency.
Residents were being urged to conserve power and water, and follow their home emergency plans.
The plane, believed to be a P750, a New Zealand-made short take-off and landing plane with up to 10 seats, hit high-voltage power lines about 9am in the rural area of Hangaroa.
It had been spreading fertiliser on Tongataha Station.
Farmers Air topdressing pilot George Anderson, aged in his 30s, and a loader driver died in the crash after their plane crashed into high-voltage power lines about 9am in the rural area of Hangaroa.
Some of the people in petrol station queues yesterday were there because they'd heard of an earthquake prediction for today.
The prediction was posted by a Hawke's Bay painter, Nigel Gray, who claimed to have predicted last month's 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake.
But GNS Science said earthquakes could not be predicted and cautioned against alarm.
Adele Maynard, was among those sitting in a queue of about 60 cars at the BP east of Gisborne centre with Evan Barbarich.
"We hear there's been an earthquake warning put out," she said.
"On top of the power cut - prepare for everything I suppose. Just to make sure our cars are all ready just in case we have to leave."
Pak'nSave was without lights but filled with customers stocking up on food supplies.
Some food outlets, including KFC and McDonald's operated on their own generators, and Civil Defence provided generators at Pizza Hut and Carl's Junior.
Police had a heavy presence in Gisborne overnight, which will continue for the next two nights, following concerns of a spike in crime.
Tairawhiti Area Commander Inspector Sam Aberahama said the Gisborne Central Police station would be open 24 hours until power resumed.
"We're here to make sure people are safe and feel safe.
"If police become aware of any crime being committed, those responsible will be held to account."
Last night police were working to retrieve the bodies and formally identify the two men killed in the crash.
Farmers Air chief pilot Andrew Hogarth said the men who died were very experienced.
The authority pointed out that there would be no immediate answers to questions about the accident, as parts of the aircraft will be tested for any mechanical failures.
Small communities along the East Coast had power restored through generators about 1pm yesterday but these were cut off between 2pm and 6pm and from 8pm.
Eastland Network crews worked overnight and were prepping materials ready for the repairs.
A bulldozer ploughed a path through remote and rough countryside yesterday to make way for the heavy equipment needed to restore power to Gisborne.
Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd said yesterday the cable could only be fixed with the use of heavy equipment that would struggle to make it to the site of the accident.
"Getting people in on site is not such an issue because we can put them in a helicopter. Putting the big equipment we need to pull the conductors across this 800m span requires a lot of mobilisation."
Key advice to the public
• Treat lines as live at all times.
• Turn all power appliances off at the wall.
• Power to the East Coast will be intermittent today.
• Whatatutu, Otoko and Puha have also had power from a generator yesterday. On and off times for these areas are the same as for the East Coast.
• A water tanker will be available to Wainui residents at the Wainui Surf Lifesaving Club from around 7am. Residents can also bucket water out of their tanks.
• Save water inside and out. That means limit the times the toilet is flushed. Do not water the garden.
Cooking and food
• Use gas for cooking either inside on a gas hob, or outside on a gas barbecue.
• The fire ban has been lifted to enable people to cook outside on an open fire if necessary.
• The free barbecues at Waikanae Beach are available until they run out of gas or are refilled.
• Some fast food outlets have generators.
• Limit the times you open the freezer or fridge to help conserve your food.
• Please check on your neighbours, particularly the very young and very old.
• Most GP practices are working at reduced capacity because of difficulty accessing electronic notes. Limit visits to the GP to urgent or emergency visits.
• People needing to boil water for baby formula could boil it on gas or a gas barbecue, or use bottled water.