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Cyclone causes chaos in New Zealand – as country declares rare national emergency

New Zealand has declared a national emergency for the third time in its history, after being battered by Cyclone Gabrielle.

After heavy rains overnight, Tuesday saw flooding, power outages, landslides, and forced evacuations.

It was a “significant catastrophe with a real risk to the lives New Zealanders,” according to the country’s emergency minister.

The alert covers Auckland, New Zealand‘s largest city. Also covered are Northland and Tairawhiti, Bay of Plenty (Waikato), Hawke’s Bay, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Hawke’s Bay.

Image: A car dodges fallen trees along a road near Cook’s Beach east of Auckland. Pic by AP
Image: Before the arrival of the cyclone, sand bags were placed in exposed areas. Pic by AP

“It was a huge night for New Zealanders all over the country, but especially in the upper North Island,” stated Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

“There were many families that were forced to flee, many homes without power and extensive damage throughout the country.

He stated that there are no statistics yet on the number of people who have been displaced and whether any persons have been killed.

The military was called up to assist with evacuations and provide supplies in the most affected areas of North Island.

Due to the destruction of roads, some areas are now closed off. River levels continue to rise.

Image Flooded road in Hawke’s Bay, east coast of North Island

According to the country’s national weather forecaster, Monday night’s rainfall was three times higher at Hawke’s Bay than normal for February.

High winds and more rain are expected, with the upper South Island potentially in the firing line. But the worst of the storm is thought to have passed.

Gabrielle was approximately 60 miles east from Auckland on Tuesday afternoon and was expected to travel parallel to the coast.

The city was in a complete halt before the storm arrived. People were told to make only essential trips.

Two weeks earlier, another severe storm had caused severe flooding. The cyclone struck just two weeks later and four people were killed in the city.

Air New Zealand cancelled 500 flights following the cyclone. This included domestic routes from Auckland.

International cancellations also affected approximately 10,000 customers, though some were still available for diversions.


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