Christchurch declares state of emergency

Casey Dawson
February 21, 2018

At least 5,000 people in New Zealand's South Island were cut off by massive landslips and hundreds of tourists stranded on Wednesday after former cyclone Gita whipped through the country, sparking a state of emergency in several southern towns.

More than 23,000 people were without power in Taranaki and Tasman districts and residents in Christchurch prepared to evacuate Tuesday due to heavy rain that could cause severe flooding in the low-lying district.

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.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said, "The full impact of the storm will be felt overnight and tomorrow morning".

It then rapidly strengthened as it grazed Niue and headed towards the islands of Tonga, which was badly hit.

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Residents were told to expect floods and winds of up to 150km/h (90mph).

Many schools and roads have been closed while, New Zealand's national airline has cancelled all flights in and out of the capital, Wellington, on North Island.

A staggering 256 millimetres of rain fell in the Kaikoura Ranges in just 18 hours, and of that, 53.6mm of that fell in one hour, making it the wettest hour ever recorded in New Zealand.

A flooded farm is seen in Bainham, New Zealand February 20, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. Earlier, the storm had caused extensive damage in Samoa and American Samoa.

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