The New Zealand government declared a national state of emergency Tuesday after a tropical storm lashed the North Island.
Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty signed the declaration as tens of thousands of homes were left without power following heavy rain and strong winds.
“This is an unprecedented weather event that is having major impacts across much of the North Island,” McAnulty said.
This is only the third time New Zealand has declared a state of emergency — the other two were the 2019 Christchurch terror attacks and 2020 Covid pandemic.
Flood waters and landslides have cut off many settlements across the country including some near Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.
“This is a significant disaster with a real threat to lives of New Zealanders,” McAnulty added.
He said more rain and high winds were expected Tuesday hampering efforts of the emergency services.
“We are all facing extensive floods, slips, damaged roads and infrastructure.”
The New Zealand Fire and Emergency services said a firefighter is missing and another is in a critical condition after a house collapsed in West Auckland.
“It’s been a tough night for the North Island as a whole but it’s been especially tough for fire and emergency,” said Kerry Gregory, chief executive of the fire service.
The freak weather grounded flights on Monday, but Air New Zealand have said they expect some services to resume on Tuesday afternoon.
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