Army personnel delivering aid to a stranded community near Napier, New Zealand Army personnel delivering aid to a stranded community near Napier, New Zealand  (AFP or licensors)

Cyclone 'Gabrielle' wreaks havoc in New Zealand

Cyclone 'Gabrielle' kills at least 11 people in New Zealand, and leaves hundreds unaccounted for, as the country calls a State of Emergency.

By Alastair Wanklyn

At least 11 people are dead in New Zealand and hundreds unaccounted for after a cyclone hit.

Heavy rain caused rivers to flood, destroying houses and farm land.

Video on social media showed survivors on the roofs of homes and work places, waiting for flood waters to subside.

The flooding in Hawke’s Bay followed a cyclone which hit New Zealand’s North Island a week ago.

Rivers burst their banks, destroying houses. In places where the water has receded houses are filled with mud and are uninhabitable.

The prime minister of New Zealand, Chris Hipkins, thanked relief workers who are stretched thin.

“Emergency services and first responders have done us all proud,” he said. “Many have worked themselves to the point of utter exhaustion. The stress and the strain of the past week is clearly starting to show.”

The flooding destroyed towns.

Listen to the report:

Hundreds of additional police officers were sent to the region after abandoned homes were looted.

Roads are blocked with mud from landslides, and crops have been destoyed. Fruit farmers are facing a ruined harvest.

New Zealand declared a state of emergency, for only the third time in the country’s history.

The damage comes only weeks after record rains in Auckland triggered flash floods in which four people died.

New Zealand’s climate minister said the scale of the present disaster is because climate change is causing an increased frequency of damaging storms.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishop of Auckland, Steve Lowe, has launched an appeal for help.

The Catholic Caring Foundation, a social support agency supported by the Diocese of Auckland, is taking donations to provide food, shelter and clothes for families affected by the floods.

19 February 2023, 15:29