New Zealand declares state of emergency as Cyclone Gabrielle arrives

New Zealand declares state of emergency as Cyclone Gabrielle arrives

Outbound traffics on a highway in Auckland, New Zealand on Feb. 12, 2023. (Photo by Zhao Gang/Xinhua)

A state of emergency has been declared in five North Island regions including Auckland before Cyclone Gabrielle unleashes its full fury. Emergency preparations are underway as power outages, flight cancellations, and school closures are seen in the region.

WELLINGTON, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) — New Zealand declared state of emergency on Monday as Cyclone Gabrielle started to lash the North Island.

People in several regions such as Northland and Auckland, the country’s largest city, have been warned of high risk of tidal flooding by the civil defense department. Thousands of people are cut off power in the North Island.

According to forecast, 400 millimeters of rain and wind gusts of 130 km/hour are expected over the next 20 hours.

The national carrier Air NZ canceled all domestic flights in and out of Auckland on Sunday, and many international flights are also canceled.

Stranded passengers are pictured as their jet services have been cancelled due to severe weather conditions at the Auckland Airport, New Zealand on Feb. 12, 2023. (Photo by Zhao Gang/Xinhua)

Most schools and childcare centers in the region have closed, and 26 emergency shelters and civil defense centers have been set up across Auckland, according to the civil defense department.

Auckland and many other places in the region were upgraded to red alert on Sunday as MetService, the national meteorological service of the country, warned that the worst weather is yet to come.

The government asked residents to prepare sandbags to buffer their homes, store food and water, and be ready for necessary evacuations in the coming days. Many sandbag stations are set up across Auckland overnight, and locals are encouraged to prepare their own sandbags for extreme situations.

A car drives by a landslide section of the road in Auckland, New Zealand on Feb. 12, 2023. (Photo by Zhao Gang/Xinhua)

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins urged people to “take the severe weather warning seriously” and “stay at home, cancel all unnecessary travels.”

This is only two weeks after Auckland and the adjacent region Waikato were inundated by record downpours and floods.

Red Warnings are only issued for the most significant weather events, and this is the second time in the year 2023.

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