Disasters & Accidents

Australia sends experts to New Zealand after cyclone

Sydney, Australia, Feb 17 (EFE).- Australia announced Friday the dispatch of disaster experts to New Zealand to help in rescue efforts after the passage of Cyclone Gabrielle, which left seven dead so far, a figure expected to rise.

The 25 Australian experts, who will assist the New Zealand emergency services, will be deployed in the next 24 hours to the North Island, a region hit hard by Gabrielle, which made landfall Sunday in the northernmost part of the country, with devastating winds and powerful storms.

“We are sending some of our best response and rescue experts to help our friends in New Zealand,” Australian Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said in a statement today, adding that “unfortunately” his country has specialized in these disasters.

Amid frantic rescue, recovery, restoration of services and delivery of humanitarian aid, New Zealand authorities Friday raised the death toll from the disaster from five to seven, including a two-year-old boy and two volunteer firefighters.

It is feared that this figure will rise because police had received reports Thursday that more than 3,500 people could not be contacted, although they hope this is due to problems in the telecommunications systems damaged by the cyclone.

As a “precautionary” measure, authorities have established two temporary morgues in the Hawke’s Bay region to “ensure that fatalities can be treated with care and respect, and in accordance with forensic processes,” a police spokesman told New Zealand public channel TVNZ on Friday.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said Friday from Port View, Hawke’s Bay, during his second visit to the disaster area that “it does no one any good” to speculate on the death toll, adding he would “give the information as soon as we are in a position to do so.”

The country declared a national emergency Tuesday in the regions and districts of Auckland, Northland, Tairawhiti, Bay of Plenty Region, Opotiki, Whakatane, Waikato, Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Tararua, Napier and Hastings, and activated the maximum emergency response level.

Gabrielle – which suddenly changed course over the weekend and avoided passing through the Australian-administered Norfolk Islands – made landfall Sunday on the North Island, although it was immediately downgraded from a Category 2 cyclone (out of a maximum of 5.) EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button