New Zealand authorities plan to conduct a final rescue operation on Wednesday after widespread flooding and landslides in which the cyclone has killed at least two people. Cyclone Gabriel hit the north of the country on Monday, damaging the country of 5 million more people than any other extreme weather event in recent years.
Emergency Minister Kieran Makanulty said the bodies of volunteer firefighters were recovered from a landslide that destroyed submerged homes near Auckland in Hawke’s Bay. A firefighter colleague was badly injured in the same landslide.
Another woman died in a landslide near Hawke’s Bay, he said.
A third body was found late Tuesday on a beach in the east coast town of Napier, but authorities did not link the death to the weather.
A weather station near Hawke’s Bay and Napier recorded three times more precipitation than usual throughout February on Monday night, authorities said. More than 300 people were rescued from a flooded bay on the east coast of the North Island on Tuesday, including 60 people stranded on the same rooftop, McCannulty said. Helicopters will help carry out the last 25 rescues of individuals and groups of families on Wednesday.
Makanulti told reporters: “Our first responders are still working on the rescue and are looking for land in several places.”
It was unknown if the death toll from the disaster would exceed two.
Macanulti said, “It’s not surprising, but I can’t tell you what’s expected”. “This is a serious case. Salvation is yet to come.”
About 9,000 people have been forced to leave their homes since Monday, along with several communities isolated by flooding and landslides.
“Everyone knows we have a long road ahead of us as we deal with massive damage to homes, businesses, roads, bridges, and other essential pieces of infrastructure,” Makanulti said. “This is a major disaster and it will take weeks for the hardest hit areas to recover.”
Two weeks ago Auckland was flooded by a record storm, killing 4 people.
A state of emergency was declared across the country on Tuesday. , enabling governments to support affected areas and provide additional resources. This is the third state of emergency declared by the country.