2 dead, 2 missing as rain pounds New Zealand's biggest city

On Friday night, transport authorities closed parts of State Highway 1, the main highway that bisects Auckland.Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown told Radio New Zealand, We need the rain to stop.

PTI | Wellington | Updated: 28-01-2023 06:03 IST | Created: 28-01-2023 06:03 IST
2 dead, 2 missing as rain pounds New Zealand's biggest city
  • Country:
  • New Zealand

Police on Saturday said two people had died and two more were missing as torrential rain caused widespread disruption to New Zealand's largest city.

Authorities declared a state of emergency for the Auckland region and the nation's new Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins, was flying to the city on a military plane to assess the damage. Hipkins was sworn in to the top job on Wednesday after Jacinda Ardern resigned.

Hipkins said the rain had hit the city fast. "Aucklanders need to brace for the fact there could be more rain," he said.

Earlier, hundreds of people were stranded at Auckland Airport overnight after the airport stopped all flights and parts of the terminal were flooded. The airport said in a statement it planned to resume domestic flights Saturday afternoon and international arrivals on Sunday.

Police said they found one man's body Friday evening in a flooded culvert and another man's body early Saturday in a flooded carpark, and they were continuing to investigate both deaths.

Police said a third man had been reported missing after being swept away by floodwaters while a fourth person remained unaccounted for after a landslide brought down a house in the suburb of Remuera.

Video posted online showed waist-deep water in some places.

Lawmaker Ricardo Menéndez posted a video of water surging into houses. "We've just had to evacuate our home as the water was already rising rapidly and coming in aggressively," he tweeted.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand said it had taken over 1,000 calls for help, but that many calls were from people who had flooded properties. The agency was urging callers to clear the lines for those in immediate danger.

In a series of updates on Twitter, Auckland Airport said people were able to leave the airport early Saturday for their homes or accommodation after hundreds spend the night in the terminal.

"It's been a long and challenging night at Auckland Airport, we thank everyone for ongoing patience," the airport wrote.

"Unfortunately, due to earlier flooding in the baggage hall, we are currently unable to return checked luggage to you," the airport wrote. "Your airline will make arrangements for its return at a later time." The airport had earlier said it was reducing its runway operations after an arriving aircraft had damaged runway lighting.

The storm also caused an Elton John concert to be cancelled just before it was due to start on Friday night.

About 40,000 people were expected to attend the evening concert at Mt Smart Stadium. Thousands were already at the venue when organisers decided to cancel not long before John was due to take the stage at 7:30 pm.

The concert was billed as a final farewell tour for John. Frontier Touring, one of the concert promoters, tweeted the concert had been cancelled due to unsafe weather conditions.

Many concertgoers who had braved the conditions were frustrated the decision hadn't been made hours earlier.

Weather agency MetService warned of flash flooding and hazardous driving conditions. On Friday night, transport authorities closed parts of State Highway 1, the main highway that bisects Auckland.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown told Radio New Zealand, "We need the rain to stop. That's the main issue."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Give Feedback