New Zealand hit by severe winds, torrential downpours

Kiwis feel the impact of powerful storms as floods and power cuts cause widespread disruption.

    Torrential downpours cause floods across parts of New Zealand's South Island [Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images]
    Torrential downpours cause floods across parts of New Zealand's South Island [Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images]

    Torrential downpours and damaging winds battered New Zealand late on Wednesday and into Thursday, flooding parts of the South Island and causing power cuts on the North Island.

    On the South Island, the Waiho River burst its banks in the tourist town of Franz Josef, causing authorities to declare a state of emergency.

    Westland Civil Defence spokesman, Andrew Thompson, told Reuters that around 186 tourists in Franz Josef had to spend the night in an emergency shelter.

    Meanwhile, homes in the township of Riwaka, near Nelson, were also evacuated.

    In the 24 hours up to 00:01 GMT on Thursday morning, Nelson recorded a massive 145mm of rain. That amounts to almost twice the March average of 75mm. Officials described the event as a once-in-50-years occurrence.

    On the North Island, New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, felt the brunt of severe gale force winds.

    Gusts of up to 110km/h disrupted power supplies, leaving parts of the city littered with debris and up to 18,000 homes without power.

    The winds eased later on Thursday. The last of any showers will clear on Friday to set up a fine and dry weekend filled with pleasant autumn sunshine.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Thou Shalt Not Kill: Israel's Hilltop Youth

    Thou Shalt Not Kill: Israel's Hilltop Youth

    Meet the hardline group willing to do anything, including going against their government, to claim land for Israel.