Streets and communities around Hawke's Bay Hospital have returned to normal after a gas-leak emergency which resulted in several evacuations closures of much of the access to the area for more than two hours today.

Emergency services were alerted at 10.10am to the smell of gas in McLeod St and Omahu Rd, both near the hospital in Hastings.

The source was identified as a ruptured main in Orchard Rd, and emergency services gradually closed access to the area at the corner of Orchard Rd and McLeod St, to all but emergency services and specific hospital traffic in Canning Rd, access to Orchard Rd via Stoneycroft St off Omahu Rd, and Lowe on the southern side of the hospital in the suburb of Camberley.

While police at one stage said the 120-pupil Camberley School had been evacuated, new principal Tamla Smith confirmed pupils were assembled in the playground, enjoying the sunshine as they were "buddied" in readiness to go to nearby Heretaunga Intermediate if necessary.


Ultimately they were not evacuated from the ground and with the leak capped, the main emergency was over by 12.30pm, children able to enjoy lunchtime, and neighbours on the northern side of Kiwi St were allowed to return to the homes from which they'd been evacuated.

The closure of a section of Orchard Rd included an entrance to the hospital, regarded mainly as the back entrance.

Hawke's Bay District Health Board communications manager Anna Kirk said there had been no indication of a need to evacuate areas of the hospital. Canning Rd, which includes the Emergency Department and Ata Rangi delivery suite, was closed to all but emergencies and hospital appointments, and Orchard Rd traffic headed for the hospital was being directed to other entrances.

The Fire Service reported eight crews were in the area, with 30 people evacuated initially, including pensioner flat residents.

There had been a "large gas cloud" in the area, a Fire Service shift manager said, and firefighters used a post-emission curtain of water to mitigate the spread of the gas.

Powerco operations manager (gas) Don Elers said the leak was near Hawke's Bay Hospital so all relevant emergency services such as ambulance and the rescue helicopter base had been alerted.

He said the gas main supplied a significant number of industrial customers who were affected while repairs were made.

By 1pm only about 50 metres of Orchard Rd remained closed as repairs continued.