WELLINGTON, New Zealand
Police said Saturday that three people were dead and one more was missing due to torrential rains and flooding in New Zealand’s largest city.
Authorities declared a state of emergency for the Auckland region, and the nation’s new prime minister, Chris Hipkins, flew to the city on a military plane to assess the damage.
Friday was the wettest day ever recorded for Auckland, according to weather agencies, with the amount that would normally fall all summer in just one day. At night, in some areas more than 15 centimeters (6 inches) of water accumulated in just three hours.
“Aucklanders need to prepare for the fact that it could rain more,” Hipkins said.
Rainfall cut roads and flooded homes. Hundreds of people were stranded at Auckland airport overnight after all flights were grounded and sections of the terminal flooded.
Police reported finding the body of a man in a flooded sewer and another in a flooded parking lot. Emergency teams found a third victim at the scene where a mudslide swept away a house in the suburb of Remuera.
Another person was still missing after being washed away, police said.
According to Hipkins, power was restored in most of the affected areas, but some 3,500 homes were still without power.
A video posted online showed chest-high flooding in some places.
Parliamentarian Ricardo Menéndez published a video where you can see how the water enters the houses. “We just had to evacuate our house because the water was rising fast and coming in aggressively,” he tweeted.
The New Zealand Fire and Emergency Service said its teams had responded to more than 700 incidents across the region and staff had responded to more than 2,000 emergency calls.
“We had all the crews of professionals and volunteers available responding to the most serious events,” said District Administrator Brad Mosby.
Mosby said crews had rescued 126 people trapped in homes or cars, or who had been in vehicle accidents.
Air New Zealand reported that it resumed domestic flights in and out of Auckland on Saturday afternoon, but could not yet say when international flights would resume.
This story was originally published on January 27, 2023 7:05 p.m.
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