Auckland, New Zealand begins cleanup after torrential rains and flash flooding

SYDNEY, January 28 (Reuters)Authorities in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, began cleaning up on Saturday, a day after torrential rains prompted flooding and evacuations, closing airports and forcing organizers to cancel a scheduled Elton concert John.

A state of emergency remained in place in the city of around 1.6 million people on New Zealand’s North Island as rains eased after causing flooding in the north, north- west and west.

Auckland Emergency Management said daylight revealed the first “real understanding” of the storm’s impact.

“Auckland was knocked out on Friday – Auckland’s wettest day on record – and today we begin the cleanup,” agency duty controller Andrew Clark said in a statement, calling for the caution residents returning to their homes to investigate flood damage.

“We won’t start to get a good idea of ​​how many people are affected until later today and even then it will take time, with information still coming in and lots of assessments to be done,” he said. he declared.

Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty tweeted that he and Prime Minister Chris Hipkins would travel to Auckland on Saturday “to assess the damage from this event”.

The country’s weather forecaster said that while the heavy rains had eased, another spell of downpours was possible on Sunday.

Two men have been found dead amid the flooding, New Zealand police said. A search was underway for another man believed to have been taken.

Another person was missing after a landslide hit a house in Remuera, an inner suburb of Auckland, police said.

More than 2,000 calls for help have been made in the city, the New Zealand Herald reported on Saturday.

Auckland Airport AIA.NZwhich closed its domestic and international operations on Friday, remained closed, with a scheduled reopening on Saturday afternoon.

Air New Zealand said it was “working on what its schedule will look like from midday today when Auckland Airport is expected to reopen”. The airline had 12 international services to Auckland diverted overnight.

Social media on Friday showed firefighters, police and members of the defense force rescuing people stranded in flooded homes using ropes and lifeboats.

The floods also forced the cancellation of British musician Elton John’s concert in the town. Some 40,000 people were expected.

(Reporting by Sam McKeith; Editing by David Gregorio)


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