The driver of a school bus involved in a crash with a train this morning has died, and one student remains in hospital.
Police have confirmed the female bus driver died in the crash. The vehicle had been heading for Feilding High School and the crash took place at a level crossing at Bunnythorpe, near Palmerston North.
Seven people were taken to Palmerston North Hospital for treatment, with injuries ranging from minor to moderate, a MidCentral District Health Board spokesman said.
He said five of the patients had since been assessed and discharged.
"Two patients were admitted to a ward, and one has since been discharged and the other is in a stable condition," the spokesman said.
A total of 41 people were on board the bus, police said.
A police spokesperson said they acknowledged this was an extremely distressing incident for all those involved, including the students and their families and the family and friends of the deceased."
Police said initial indications were that there were "serious injuries", but later clarified no children had been seriously injured.
Some children had to be pulled from the wreckage through a bus window.
St John ambulance said a total of 40 patients had been assessed - some at the scene and others at hospital.
Four ambulances and a rapid response unit were at the scene.
A witness said the crossing's barrier arm "looked mangled".
The crash has forced the closure of the North Island main trunk line between Marton and Palmerston North.
One person was trapped in the bus, Fire and Emergency NZ said.
Emergency services were called to the intersection of Railway Rd and the Clevely Line, in Bunnythorpe, just after 8am.
Diversions are now in place and motorists are being told to avoid the area at Dixons Line and Railway Rd.
KiwiRail Group chief executive Greg Miller said he "shocked and saddened" to learn of this morning's crash.
"KiwiRail staff are on site, working with emergency services and supporting the train driver, who is physically unharmed but naturally shaken by the incident.
"We will work closely with agencies in any investigation but for now the priority is allowing emergency services to do their job."
KiwiRail would be offering support to the schools involved and the bus company, Miller said.
The level crossing was equipped with flashing lights and bells.