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New Zealand weather: Four dead after record rainfall causes flooding and landslides | World News

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Four people have died as torrential rain continues to hammer New Zealand’s largest city, causing flash flooding and landslides.

Auckland and large parts of the north island remain under a state of emergency, after record rainfall since Friday, and more severe weather forecast for the coming days.

Flooding has inundated homes, caused road closures, and led to a train derailment.

Thousands of properties remain without power, while hundreds have no water supply, the authorities said.

Video posted online showed chest-deep water in some places.

Auckland emergency management controller Rachel Kelleher said: “We know that there is potential for more adverse weather tonight.”

Deputy prime minister of New Zealand Carmel Sepuloni said: “The most horrific part of it is that we’ve lost lives.”

Police said they found one man’s body in a flooded culvert and another in a submerged car park.

They said fire and emergency crews found a third body after a landslide brought down a house in Remuera. a suburb of Auckland.

Another person who was initially reported missing after being swept away by floodwaters has since been confirmed dead.

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Meanwhile, Chris Hipkins, who has been prime minister for less than a week after Jacinda Ardern resigned, flew to Auckland by military plane before boarding a helicopter to survey the damage.

“Our priority is to ensure that Aucklanders are safe, that they’re housed and that they have access to the essential services that they need,” Mr Hipkins, who visited flood-hit homes, said.

He added: “This is an unprecedented event in recent memory.”

Air New Zealand has now resumed both international and domestic flights in and out of Auckland after the airport was forced to temporarily close last week.

Vehicles are stranded by flood water in Auckland, Saturday, Jan 28, 2023. Record levels of rainfall pounded New Zealand's largest city, causing widespread disruption. (Dean Purcell/New Zealand Herald via AP)
Pic: AP

‘This is climate change’

Climate change has led to more common and intense deluges of rain in New Zealand, as underlined by the county’s environment minister James Shaw when he tweeted his support to those impacted by the flooding.

“This is climate change,” he wrote.

“We all have a responsibility to make certain the NZ we leave our kids is safe & habitable.”

Friday was the wettest day recorded in Auckland according to forecasters, as the amount of rain that would typically fall over the entire summer was reached in a single day.

More than six inches of rain fell in just three hours in some places.

The weather caused Sir Elton John to cancel his concert just before it was due to start on Friday night.

A second concert by Sir Elton that was planned at the Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on Saturday night was also cancelled.

Fans leave Mt Smart Stadium after the Elton John concert was cancelled. (Julea Dalley/New Zealand Herald via AP)
Fans leave Mt Smart Stadium after the Elton John concert was cancelled. (Julea Dalley/New Zealand Herald via AP)

Delay in declaration of emergency criticised

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown has defended criticism that his office did not properly communicate the seriousness of the situation and held off on declaring an emergency until about 9.30pm on Friday.

He said the timing of the emergency declaration was guided by experts.

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