A vehicle with a body inside has been found in Tauranga Harbour.
Police divers were this morning searching for a vehicle believed to have gone off Maungatapu Bridge on State Highway 29A last night.
In a statement, police said the dive squad had found a vehicle and the driver's body was also found inside the vehicle.
A reporter at the scene said a hearse had left the scene. A large blue crane with a chain attached lifted a bluish grey double-cab ute with a white canopy from the water.
The road between Maungatapu and the Baypark roundabout remains closed, and would likely stay closed for a number of hours, a police spokeswoman said. Diversions are in place.
A woman who lives in Miriana St, which overlooks the bridge, said she heard a loud bang about 7.30pm last night but she could not see anything when she went outside to investigate.
The traffic was still flowing in both directions so she did not think any more about it, she said.
"I'm praying it is only one person, and not a family or a group of young people, but one death wound be bad enough," she said.
About 11.30am a reporter at the scene said the dive squad was parked up in an inflatable boat close to Maungatapu Bridge. Behind the boat, a rope was connected to two orange buoys which appeared to mark an area of interest for the searchers.
The reporter said about midday, she saw police divers pull something from the water and take it to the Matapihi shoreline before continuing the search.
A Maungatapu couple told the Bay of Plenty Times they were at Baypark Speedway last night when the organisers announced the bridge was closed due to a crash.
The couple said the bridge was narrow and had little room for error.
Another Maungatapu resident said given the dive squad was involved in the search, he feared someone's family may shortly receive some sad news, but he hoped the driver managed to escape.
Police were told about 8pm last night that a railing along a section of the bridge was missing.
Last night police were not able to confirm if the vehicle which collided with the bridge had left the scene.
The Maungatapu Bridge is a beam bridge which crosses the Tauranga Harbour and connects the Matapihi and Maungatapu peninsulas.
The bridge opened in 1959 and is 316m long and 10m wide.
The bridge carries two lanes of traffic and a footpath.
Police would like to hear from anyone who has information about this collision and urge them to contact Tauranga Police on 07 577 4300.