A horrific collision between a train and a herd of cattle has ended in the death of 57 animals.
KiwiRail's executive general manager of operations, Siva Sivapakkiam, confirmed a train, travelling between Napier to Palmerston North, struck the herd about 6pm on Thursday night.
"Unfortunately 47 were killed and another 10 that were injured had to be euthanised."
"Incidents like this are distressing for all those involved."
He said it was a good reminder to keep land well fenced, to avoid such incidents.
"There was some damage to the locomotive but it was able to carry on to Palmerston North after some repairs."
The stock was owned by Brownrigg Agriculture. The company's general manager of livestock, Brent Oliver, said it was an "incredibly unfortunate thing
"We were made aware at 9pm that a train had hit a significant number of cattle on the railway line near our farms. Arriving at the scene I found they were our cattle."
He said the land was fenced and the cattle had been checked earlier in the day and were settled, with the gates shut.
"However, sometime in the evening they have broken out of their paddock and made their way down a lane gaining access to the railway track at a level crossing.
"It's one of those incredibly unfortunate things. It's been pretty gut wrenching for myself and our staff who had to deal with this during the night and this morning. We're looking into how the cattle broke out. We're grateful to the Police who helped us last evening."
The incident took place near the intersection of Wharemoana Rd and State Highway 2, near Te Hauke.
President of Federated Farmers Hawke's Bay, Jim Galloway, said there would be a huge emotional and financial toll for the owner of the animals.
He predicted the cost would be a minimum of $50,000, but said there was a lot of variation in how much cattle are worth.
He said it was important to make sure gates and fences are secure, especially when in the vicinity of railways and roads.
A police spokeswoman told the Herald they received reports of the incident around 9pm but the incident may have taken some time before they were alerted.
Animal control had been advised.
Ministry for Primary Industries director compliance, Gary Orr, confirmed the ministry was
aware of the incident.
"As the death of the animals involved appears to be attributable to a motor vehicle accident which is under investigation by Police, we will will not be investigating."