Power has been fully restored to more than 20,000 homes and businesses in Gisborne tonight, after a 33-hour outage.

Residents have been enjoying the usual home comforts since 6.50pm this evening after Eastland Network line mechanics completed repairs to one of the two circuits on the high-voltage lines which provide power to the area.

Both circuits suffered extreme damage after a top-dressing plane crashed into an 800m span of the lines yesterday morning. Most of the region's 40,000 residents have been without power since.

Eastland Network general manager Brent Stewart thanks the people of Tairawhiti for their patience during the extended power outage.

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"We will pass on your messages of appreciation to our crews. Right now 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.

Electricity began to be restored from about 5.30pm.

He said residents should turn appliances off at the wall, and switch them on again now the power supply is restored.

I would like to say a very big thank you to the people who worked through over 30 hours in harsh conditions to restore...

Posted by Carrol Greeks on Monday, 12 December 2016

The crash claimed the lives of experienced pilot George Anderson, aged in his 30s, and a ground crew member who has not yet been named.

Farmers Air director Andrew Hogarth said those at the family-owned business where the men worked were "devastated" by their loss.

The men's bodies were removed yesterday afternoon and are undergoing post-mortem examinations in Palmerston North, police said.

Hogarth offered his deepest condolences to the loved ones of those killed earlier today.

"We are doing all we can to support them during this extraordinarily difficult time."

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The crew at Farmers Air was tight-knit and all staff knew the families of the dead colleagues well, he said.

Hogarth described Anderson as an aviation enthusiast and a highly skilled operator.

"He was a friend and we'd worked together overseas. He was a very experienced pilot."

The ground crew member who died had been with the company only two months.

Hogarth has owned Farmers Air for two years

"We pride ourselves on operating the best gear we can, the best equipment for our staff, and the best training," said Hogarth.

"This is a tragic outcome and our thoughts are very much with the families of those involved. We are just grouping together now and trying to help each other to work through it."

Farmers Air was co-operating with the Civil Aviation Authority in its investigation, he said.

Eastland Network will need to turn the power off again to make permanent repairs.

"To complete the repairs and ensure ongoing security of supply, we will need to interrupt the electricity supply again. We're currently working through plans to determine when this will happen and how long the outage will be when it does."

Stewart said Eastland Network would make an announcement about this tomorrow.

"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."

He asked those living in Gisborne and the East Coast to keep themselves safe by continuing to treat all lines as live at all times.

Tairawhiti Civil Defence controller Patrick Willock praised the Civil Defence Emergency Management team and particularly the network team which completed a major job in getting power restored in difficult conditions and in a timely way.

"We know that the majority of the community has appreciated their work."

Police will continue to have an increased presence in the region for the next few nights after three burglaries in 24 hours.

Police said it was unfortunate that people had exploited the situation for their own gain.

Extra police staff had been rostered on and additional community patrols had been deployed to ensure safety and provide reassurance to the community, police said.

The Gisborne Police Station will remain open 24/7 to the public until further notice.