New Zealand declares state of emergency after powerful cyclone wreaks havoc

Cyclone Gabrielle causes widespread flooding, landslides, displacing hundreds of people in several regions

Islamuddin Sajid  | 14.02.2023 - Update : 14.02.2023
New Zealand declares state of emergency after powerful cyclone wreaks havoc


New Zealand on Tuesday declared a national state of emergency after Cyclone Gabrielle caused widespread flooding and landslides and displaced hundreds of people in several regions.

“The New Zealand government has this morning declared a National State of Emergency to assist in the response to Cyclone Gabrielle,” said Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty in a statement.

The emergency will apply in six regions including Northland, Auckland, Tairāwhiti, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Hawkes Bay, he added.

So far 2,500 people have been displaced and 225,000 people around the North Island have been left without electricity as the massive flooding and landslide caused huge damage to the power supply system, roads, shops, and homes, according to media reports.

This is only the third time in New Zealand’s history that a national state of emergency has been declared. It was earlier declared after the 2011 earthquake and later in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is an unprecedented weather event that is having major impacts across much of the North Island,” McAnulty said.

Meanwhile, Fire and Emergency New Zealand says one of their two firefighters, who were trapped in Motutara Road in Muriwai, has been rescued while another one is still missing.

According to the New Zealand weather agency, at 6 p.m. (0500GMT) Cyclone Gabrielle’s center is finally about to slowly track out to sea off from East Cape, in a south-easterly direction, however, the central air pressure has risen steadily today.

“This means the storm is slowly unraveling and easing – but it’s such an intense storm it’s going to take a few days to do that properly, as it moves away past the Chatham Islands," said the weather agency.

Roads in the affected regions also remain closed while telecommunications services were also affected.

“If you're in the upper North Island, avoid all nonessential travel. Several state highways are closed due to downed trees, slips, and flooding; local roads are affected too,” the transport agency tweeted.

The cyclone also disrupted the flight service and hundreds of travelers are also stuck at airports.

* Writing by Islamuddin Sajid

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