Recovery work begins as Cyclone Gabriel moves away from New Zealand


WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Cyclone Gabriel weakened and moved away from New Zealand on Wednesday. The country has begun assessing damage from massive floods, landslides and high winds that have killed four people and displaced thousands from their homes.

Arriving in New Zealand on Sunday before heading down the east coast of the North Island, Gabriel cut off entire towns, washing away farms, bridges and livestock, flooding homes and leaving people stranded on roofs.

“Our immediate focus has been on carrying out our mission to save the lives of those affected by the floods in need of assistance,” Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said Wednesday in a televised media briefing. He added that all those stranded on roofs by the flood had been rescued.

“Don’t go home until it’s completely clear,” he said, warning that the situation would still be dangerous even if the weather improved.

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After the cyclone forced New Zealand to declare Tuesday, residents of severely hit areas are being asked to conserve water and food as they fear shortages. national emergency Only the third time in its history.

Hipkins confirmed Wednesday that four people have died, including a volunteer firefighter who was caught in a landslide Monday in response to calls.

With about 1,400 people reported missing and about 1,100 found since the cyclone crisis began, there is likely considerable overlap between the two lists, Hipkins said. said.

But he added that police had “serious concerns” about several missing people.

Parts of the North Island, home to about 75% of New Zealand’s 5 million inhabitants, have been hit by the second major storm in recent weeks. record rain last month Auckland flash flood kills 4 people.

Authorities estimate that more than 9,000 people have been displaced so far, with about 3,000 in temporary shelters.

The Department of Defense has deployed more than 700 personnel, four aircraft, seven helicopters and two naval vessels to rescue people stranded in floodwaters and deliver needed supplies to isolated towns. said Hipkins.

Alysha Haidekker is back to assess the flood damage at her home that was hit hard in Hawke’s Bay on Wednesday. The water was drained, but left behind silt, swollen wood, and damaged the new kitchen, wall linings, and doors.

She said they were able to move many of their belongings to the upper floors, but the flooding soon followed.

“Water came in through the door, and I scrambled to get a towel, but by the time I turned around, I knew the towel was useless,” she said. was”

evacuation continues

Cyclone Gabriel is currently in the east of the country and continues to move away from the North Island, and the weather is now improving, according to the Weather Service’s WeatherWatch.

Both domestic and international flights have resumed, although airline schedules could be disrupted for several days, Auckland Airport said in a tweet Wednesday morning.

But Hawke’s Bay’s river continues to pose a risk, and local emergency management ordered further evacuations early Wednesday. About 160,000 customers across the island were without power, 225,000 on Tuesday. decreases from the peak of Officials hope that number will improve again on Thursday.

Reporting by Lucy Kramer, Renju Jose and Luis Jackson. Edited by Sandra Maler, Himani Sarkar and Michael Perry

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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