NZ seeking 13 people following cyclone as more wild weather strikes

Sydney, Australia, Feb 25 (EFE).- The number of people uncontactable following the devastating Cyclone Gabrielle in New Zealand has dropped from the thousands to 13, police reported on Saturday, as more wild weather hit the North Island.

More than 4,500 were unreachable after the worst of the cyclone had passed, but as communications and road access to cut-off areas has been restored, this number has dropped significantly.

“Getting in touch with those remaining 13 remains a priority for police and we are working as fast as we can, using a number of different methods,” New Zealand Police said in a statement.

Gabrielle made landfall on Feb. 12, slamming the country’s most populated North Island, and has so far left 11 dead and thousands displaced, in addition to widespread material destruction and damage to power and communication networks.

Among those killed by the passage of Gabrielle were a two-year-old girl and two volunteer firefighters, although the authorities acknowledge that the number could increase to as efforts to clean up, repair and rebuild the affected areas continue.

Meanwhile, authorities also issued alerts for new storms across the North Island and a tornado struck the Coromandel’s Waihi Beach on Saturday, ripping roofs off houses and cutting power to nearly 2500 properties, according to public broadcaster RNZ.

A national state of emergency to aid the response to the cyclone is still in force in the districts of Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Tairawhiti, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Tararua. EFE


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