Three bodies have been found after Cyclone Gabrielle lashed New Zealand, authorities said on Wednesday, warning that while the worst of the storm had passed, “we are not out of danger yet”.
“One body was found at the site where a firefighter went missing during the storm, and the remains of two others were recovered in the hard-hit Hawke’s Bay region,” said Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty.
Defence Force, rescue services and private operators have rescued hundreds of people in Hawke's Bay, where floodwaters rose up to rooftops and two people died.
A woman has died in Putorino, northern Hawke’s Bay, after a bank collapsed on her home, reported “RNZ”.
Meanwhile, about 11 army trucks have arrived at the Hastings Sports Centres, Hawke’s Bay, where about 9 000 people were displaced as a result of floodwaters and damage from Cyclone Gabrielle.
The evacuees include children and elder people, who are carrying their belongings, and washing baskets full of blankets and supplies.
With ongoing power outages and patchy service, Hawke’s Bay residents are trying to reconnect with their missing loved ones.
Authorities have had difficulties reaching relevant officials on the ground as communication went out to many places on Tuesday when Cyclone Gabrielle’s wreaked havoc in the region, reported “RNZ”.
Hundreds of people have posted on social media looking for information about family and friends.
Thousands of people are out of their homes in other areas from Tairawhiti to Hawke’s Bay and Tararua on the eastern coast, and Dargaville, Muriwai, Piha and Karekare in the west.
MetService (Meteorological Service of New Zealand Limited) said heavy rain would hit central New Zealand until Thursday with high waves along the east coast, reported “RNZ”.
A national state of emergency was declared on Tuesday, it is only the third in New Zealand’s history.
Auckland, Northland, Tairawhiti, Bay of Plenty Region, Opotiki, Whakatane district, Waikato Region, Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki district, Waikato district, Tararua District, Napier City and Hastings District had already declared local states of emergency.
The government says about 2 500 people have been displaced by Cyclone Gabrielle since Tuesday.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has called Cyclone Gabrielle the most significant weather event in New Zealand so far this century.