Monday, March 16, 2015

Coastal areas evacuated as Cyclone Pam batters New Zealand

Remote communities on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island were evacuated Monday as Tropical Cyclone Pam brought gales, torrential rains and huge waves to coastal areas.
The storm had passed through the north of the North Island and the biggest city of Auckland with little impact, but it had been reclassified as "an intense tropical cyclone" early on Monday, said a statement from the government's MetService weather bureau.

The center of the storm was 230 km east of East Cape and it still had the power to bring severe weather.

A state of emergency was declared Monday in the Chatham Islands, a small group of islands about 750 km east of the South Island and home to about 600 people.

Chatham Islands Mayor Alfred Preece said in a statement from the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management that the reason for the declaration was the imminent arrival of Cyclone Pam combined with rural fires blazing on the islands.

The declaration was needed to protect public safety and coordinate the emergency response.

More than 150 mm of rain had fallen in the worst-hit Gisborne district in the 24 hours to 2 p.m. Monday, with one area recording more that 200 mm, and wind gusts were reaching up to 145 km per hour.

"Cyclone Pam is moving southeast and is expected to maintain its intensity, or may even intensify slightly, reaching the Chatham Islands around midday Tuesday. A warning is now in place for severe gales, heavy rain and heavy swells for the Chathams," the MetService statement said.

Schools in the Gisborne district were closed Monday and power was out in many areas.

The New Zealand Army was on standby to help in at least two areas in Gisborne.

More than 100 people had been evacuated as a precaution against inundation by the sea, flooding and slips, Gisborne Civil Defence Emergency Management controller Peter Higgs said in a statement.

Waves of up to 9 meters were expected in parts of the region because of the high winds and swells, but these were expected to reduce to about 3 to 4 meters by midday Tuesday.

Civil Defence staff were considering further evacuations from low-lying areas.

"We have reports coming in of horizontal rain and a fierce sea rising rapidly," said Higgs.

Police Gisborne area commander Sam Aberahama said in a statement that police had reports of waves of 5 to 6 meters in one area and residents had "never seen anything like it before."

  Xinhua -

1 comment:

  1. Death toll after Vanuatu cyclone rises to 24...

    Twenty-four people were killed in Vanuatu by Cyclone Pam which tore through the Pacific nation packing winds of up to 320km/h, the UN said.

    "There are 24 confirmed fatalities, 11 from Tafea, eight from Efate and five from Tanna," the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a situation report.

    Vanuatu's president said his island nation needs the world's help to rebuild "everything" after it was hit by one of the most powerful storms ever recorded.............


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