New Zealand PM visits area devastated by Cyclone Gabrielle
Sydney, Australia, Feb 16 (EFE).- New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins visited Thursday the city of Gisborne, one of the most affected by Cyclone Gabrielle on the North Island, which has left at least five deaths, including a child, in addition to thousands of displaced people, isolated populations and damage.
In today’s day, in which storms are expected in some parts of the east coast of the North Island, authorities are trying to contact the isolated towns, bring water and supplies, restore communications, electrical service and road access.
“The priority is to do everything possible to get people through this situation,” Hipkins said in a statement to the media in Gisborne, during the first visit to assess the devastation left behind by Gabrielle and give assistance to citizens.
“We continue to do what we can to reach these (isolated) communities and make sure that the supply chain and communication chains remain open,” the Hipkins said, highlighting the resilience of families affected by Gabrielle and the earthquake in 5.7 that shook the north of the country Wednesday night, with no casualties reported.
New Zealand Police, which raised the death toll from the disaster from four to five on Thursday, is working against the clock to locate some 1,400 people who have been reported missing, especially in the Hawke’s Bay region, south of Gisborne.
For their part, residents of some areas of the North Island, including Hawke’s Bay, began cleaning tasks Thursday as the water level begins to drop, while two Navy ships are expected to arrive on the east coast with thousands of liters of water, provisions, sanitary products, soldiers and medical personnel.
The country Tuesday declared a national emergency 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 response level to an emergency.
Gabrielle – which suddenly changed course over the weekend and avoided passing through the Australian-administered Norfolk Islands – made landfall on the North Island Sunday, although it was quickly downgraded from a Category 2 cyclone (out of a maximum of 5) to strong tropical storm. EFE