Auckland floods set to continue as more rainstorms loom

  • Northern New Zealand braces for another 12-24 hours of heavy rain
  • Increased risk of flooding, landslides observed
  • PM Hipkins welcomes Australia’s offer of aid

WELLINGTON, Jan 31 (Reuters) – New Zealand officials told residents of flood-ravaged Auckland on Tuesday to prepare for the onslaught of another storm as residents begin a clean-up after a series of floods. floods and landslides in New Zealand’s largest city this weekend. .

Four people have lost their lives in flash floods and landslides that have hit Auckland over the past three days amid record downpours. A state of emergency is in place in Auckland and Northland, the country’s northernmost region.

With more rain on the way, Auckland has already been inundated with record levels for the past four days, and soggy ground and full rivers mean further rainfall increases the risk of flooding and landslides.

Beaches around the city of 1.6 million people are off limits due to contaminated water, several major roads remain closed and all schools in Auckland will remain closed until February 7. Evacuation centers have been set up across the city.

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New Zealand weather information provider Metservice predicts another 12 to 24 hours of heavy rain in the north of the country from Tuesday afternoon, with up to 120 millimeters (4.7 inches) expected in parts of Auckland.

“These are lines of heavy rain coming in bands … we expect impacts during nighttime periods. So (expect) slides, further flooding,” MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths said during the briefing. a televised press briefing.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said his government would accept his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese’s offer of help to deal with the floods.

“Absolutely, if there are ways Australians can help, we will absolutely accept those offers of support,” Hipkins said ahead of a trip to Australia next week, his first overseas trip since becoming the country’s leader earlier this month in the wake. of the resignation of predecessor Jacinda Ardern.

Auckland Emergency Management Comptroller Rachel Kelleher said Auckland Domestic Airport was now operating at full capacity, while Auckland International Airport was operating near full capacity and hoped to return to normal soon. normal operations.

Flag carrier Air New Zealand (AIR.NZ) said in a statement on Tuesday that it had added additional services and increased seat capacity to help customers whose plans had been disrupted by the weather. Of the 9,000 passengers affected by the weather, 7,800 had been rebooked on Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the city council designated 77 homes as uninhabitable and barred people from entering them. A further 318 properties were deemed at risk, with restricted access to certain areas for short periods.

The insurance industry expects costs associated with the flood to exceed the NZ$97 million ($62.5 million) spent following the 2021 floods on the west coast of New Zealand. Zeeland.

($1 = 1.5526 New Zealand dollars)

Reporting by Lucy Craymer and Renju Jose; Editing by William Maclean and Kenneth Maxwell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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