A state of emergency has been declared in New Zealand’s biggest city Auckland as torrential rains caused widespread flooding and evacuations as well as closing the city’s airports.
Auckland’s Mayor Wayne Brown said he declared the state of emergency on Friday due to the extent of the “damage, displacement and disruption … and enables emergency services and response agencies to draw on resources, and enact additional powers, to assist affected Aucklanders”.
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“We need the rain to stop. That’s the main issue,” Brown told Radio New Zealand.
The Auckland Emergency Management said in a post on Twitter that northern, northwestern and western parts of the city were affected by significant flooding, with conditions expected to worsen.
Auckland Airport right now 🤯 pic.twitter.com/CJBwakOZ74
— Fizzy | Bull Club 🐂♧ (@FizzyTBC) January 27, 2023
The agency advised residents in flood-prone areas to prepare to evacuate and opened an evacuation centre in west Auckland.
Videos on social media showed firefighters, police and defence force staff rescuing stranded people from flooded homes using ropes and rescue boats.
British music legend Elton John’s concert in the northern city on Friday, which was expected to be attended by about 40,000 people at Mt Smart Stadium was cancelled, authorities said.
“Given the weather, tonight’s show has been cancelled. Our operations team is working to redirect special event buses to help get people back home,” Auckland Transport said in a statement on Twitter.
Main roads were also blocked by the floods, causing long traffic queues on highways.
Auckland Airport said it had reduced its runway operations after an arriving aircraft damaged runway lighting.
“This is largely impacting international arrivals and departures and larger aircraft travelling domestically,” the airport said on Twitter.