- New Zealand’s death toll from Cyclone Gabrielle is at least one person but poised to rise.
- Roughly 300 people had to be rescued from rooftops in Hawke’s Bay, Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty said.
- Fire and Emergency NZ chief executive Kerry Gregory suggested further deaths from the mammoth storm had been confirmed across the country.
- The storm is New Zealand’s worst since 1988, and the damage may surpass the devastation of Cyclone Bola in that year.
Wellington: New Zealand’s death toll from Cyclone Gabrielle is at least one person but poised to rise, with rescue efforts unable to assist a woman trapped in a collapsed home.
Roughly 300 people had to be rescued from rooftops in Hawke’s Bay, Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty told Stuff.co.nz.
Water gushes from a storm drain access port on a street in Te Awanga, southwest of Auckland, New Zealand.Credit:AP
On Wednesday morning, Hawke’s Bay civil defence authorities confirmed the death of a woman in Putorino, a small town north of Napier.
Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) were first alerted to the landslide early on Tuesday morning, but were unable to attend due to flooding.
FENZ chief executive Kerry Gregory suggested further deaths from the mammoth storm had been confirmed across the country.
“Overnight there’s been reports of further fatalities across the country,” he said from a briefing in Auckland on Wednesday morning.
“Our hearts go out to the families of those who have potentially lost their lives last night. It’s a really difficult time for New Zealand.”
Late on Tuesday, police confirmed a body had been found on the beach on Bay View, just north of Napier.
A police spokeswoman told AAP it had not yet been tied to the effects of Gabrielle, with inquiries ongoing to establish circumstances and identification.
Mud flows onto a street in Auckland, New Zealand. Credit:Getty
A volunteer firefighter was also trapped in a collapsed house in Muriwai, on Auckland’s west coast, for more than 24 hours, with bad weather preventing a search until late on Tuesday.
FENZ spokesman said they would use all the tools at their disposal – including thermal imaging, tracker dogs – to find the man.
“The longer the search goes on for the firefighter, we’ve got grave concerns for the safety of our firefighter … (but) no one has given up hope,” Mr Monrad said.
Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty told Stuff.co.nz that roughly 300 people had been rescued from rooftops in Hawke’s Bay, a region on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
The Mahurangi River flowing with flood waters in Auckland, New Zealand.Credit:Getty
The situation is still “developing”, he added.
The storm is New Zealand’s worst since 1988, and the damage may surpass the devastation of Cyclone Bola in that year.
“It’s the most extreme weather event that we’ve experienced in a very long time,” Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said.
“Our focus right now is on the immediate response. It’s on making sure that people have a roof over their head. That they have a meal. That their families are well cared for.”
A house sits destroyed at the bottom of a large landslide in Auckland.Credit:Getty
The cyclone, which formed in the Coral Sea last week, moved steadily towards New Zealand and passed along the northern rim of North Island between Sunday and Tuesday.
By 7pm local, it was east of the NZ mainland, but its massive size continued to whip up destructive winds all across North Island.
MetService spokeswoman Lisa Murray told Radio NZ huge rainfall and gale-force winds meant “there’s a lot of places in trouble”.
“It really is widespread across the North Island.”
AAP with reporters
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