New Zealand swept away by deadly flash floods for a third day
Heavy rains hit New Zealand’s northern island again on Sunday, triggering landslides, flash floods and destroying roads, with the death toll rising to four after one missing person was confirmed dead.
Battered by rain since Friday, Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city with 1.6 million inhabitants, remains in a state of emergency. The nation’s weather agency, MetService, warned of more severe weather Sunday and Monday for the northern island. It said heavy rainfall can also cause flash floods and flash floods.
The focus of the emergency has since moved south, with Waitomo County – located about 220 kilometers from Auckland – declaring a state of emergency late on Saturday.
Police confirmed that a man who went missing after being swept away on Friday in Onewhero, a rural village about 70 kilometers south of Auckland, has died.
Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni told reporters in Auckland: “The most terrible thing is that we have lost our lives.”
Climate change is making heavy rains more common and intense in New Zealand, although the impact varies by region. Climate Change Secretary James Shaw noted the link to climate change on Saturday when he tweeted in support of those affected by the floods.
On Sunday, police said they were assisting with traffic management and closing roads in that area after heavy rain “caused numerous slips, floods and road damage.”
In nearby Bay of Plenty there was also “widespread flooding”, police said, as well as a landslide that knocked down a house and threatened neighboring properties.
Thousands of homes are still without power, while hundreds are without running water, authorities said Sunday.
But Air New Zealand said its international flights in and out of Auckland would resume from noon on Sunday.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, less than a week into office, flew by helicopter over Auckland before inspecting flood-ravaged homes. He described the flood impact in the city as “unprecedented” in recent memory.
Residents have made more than 2,000 calls for assistance and 70 evacuations around Auckland – the nation’s largest city – due to flooding, the New Zealand Herald reported on Saturday.
(Reporting by Sam McKeith; Editing by Josie Kao)