Cyclone in New Zealand: 4 dead, 300 people rescued from rooftops

New Zealand cyclone: ​​4 dead, 300 people rescued from rooftops


Around 300 people who took shelter on rooftops were evacuated by the military in New Zealand after Cyclone Gabrielle struck four dead and displaced 10,500 people, said Wednesday authorities. 

The body of a fourth victim, a child believed to be 'caught by rising waters', has been found in the rural village of Eksdale on the country's east coast, police say.

Three other people had previously been found dead in areas affected by the cyclone: ​​one at the location where a firefighter was reported missing when a house collapsed during the stormy weather in West Auckland and two others in the area of Hawke's Bay in the North Island, Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty said.

The New Zealand military has deployed three NH90 helicopters to the hard-hit Hawke's Bay area . There they rescued workers, families or pets perched on sodden roofs to escape rising waters.

“In some cases, floodwaters reached the second story of houses” where rescue operations were underway, detailed a military spokesperson.

At an evacuation center in the northern town of Whangarei, Margaret, 66, recounts how she fled as floodwaters engulfed her home, knocking out the electricity in the process.

< p>His daughter, who lives 600 kilometers away in Napier on the east coast, was also forced from her home when a landslide hit the area.

“She had called me earlier, to check that I was okay, and now it happens to her; it's incredible, really,” she told AFP.

“She's young, so it's a big setback for her and her husband. Me, I'm going to get out of it, I have people here with whom I can stay and things will eventually work out”, she wants to believe.

“Phenomenal” work

Mr. McAnulty hailed the “phenomenal” work of rescuers and the military in evacuating “nearly 300 people” from rooftops in the hard-to-reach Hawke's Bay area.

A group of 60 people were rescued from a large flooded building.

“There have been four confirmed deaths and the grief must be unimaginable,” the neo-Prime Minister told a press conference. Zealander Chris Hipkins.

Violent winds and torrential rains affected the North Island overnight from Monday to Tuesday, where more than three quarters of the country's five million inhabitants live, causing floods and landslides.

Authorities are beginning to gauge the extent of the damage in remote towns where floodwaters have washed away roads and cut off communications.

Some 10,500 people have been displaced, the minister of Emergency Management and 160,000 are without power, although power is gradually being restored.

Police have also received more than 1,400 reports of people being “unreachable” due to the interruption of the mobile phone network.

The region, with once bucolic landscapes, is unrecognizable, between impetuous torrents, destroyed roads and major landslides.

The cyclone has since weakened as it continues its course towards the South Pacific after raising waves of 11 meters and brings winds of up to 140 km/h.

Chris Hipkins called Gabrielle “New Zealand's most severe weather event this century” and the state of emergency national was decreed for a week.

“This is a significant disaster,” said Mr. McAnulty, stressing that it will take “many weeks” for the affected areas to recover. “There is a long way to go,” he concluded.

Cyclone Gabrielle formed on February 8 off the northeast coast of Australia in the Coral Sea, before crossing the South Pacific.

According to scientists, it fed on exceptionally warm seas, under the combined effect of climate change and the La Nina phenomenon, a meteorological anomaly.