Ex-Cyclone Gita: New Zealand districts declare state of emergency

Violet Powell
February 21, 2018

Power to tens of thousands of people was cut as several areas declared a state of emergency and closed roads because of land slips, flooding and fallen trees.

Torrential rains from Gita, which was downgraded on Tuesday from a tropical cyclone to storm, lashed the center of New Zealand, causing floods in the city of Christchurch and other provinces.

India in contributing $1 million for relief efforts in the Pacific Ocean Kingdom of Tonga that was devastated by Cyclone Gita last week, according to the UN.

Residents have been told to expect winds of up to 150 km/hour and to avoid travel.

The official MetService weather bureau said the storm had moved out to sea south of Christchurch by mid-morning today.

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Air New Zealand grounded all flights to the capital city of Wellington at 2.45pm (1.45am GMT) as heavy winds and rain cause unsafe travel chaos.

It then rapidly strengthened as it grazed Niue and headed towards the islands of Tonga, which was badly hit. "We are expecting homes to be flooded". Widespread flooding and power outages were expected.

Climate experts are predicting New Zealand will mark one of its hottest summers since records were first kept in the 1860s. Compared with 2017, wine grapes in the vineyards are three weeks ahead in their development.

Arriving at New Zealand, the storm first hit the zone between the North and South islands, whipping up waves up to 9 metres tall.

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