2 dead, 2 missing as rain pounds New Zealand’s biggest city

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Two people have been killed and two more are missing, police said on Saturday. This is as heavy rains and flooding continue to cause widespread disruption in New Zealand’s largest city.

Authorities declared a state of emergency in the Oakland area, and the country’s new prime minister, Chris Hipkins, flew into the city in a military plane to assess the damage.hipkins is sworn to After Jacinda Ardern in Wednesday’s Top Job resigned.

Hipkins said the rain hit the city quickly. “Aucklanders should be prepared for the fact that more rain is possible,” he said.

Earlier, hundreds of people were stranded overnight at Auckland airport after it suspended all flights and flooded parts of the terminal.

Police said they found one man’s body in a flooded culvert on Friday night and another in a flooded parking lot early Saturday morning.

A third man was reported missing after being swept away by flood waters, and a fourth remained missing after a landslide collapsed a house on the outskirts of Remuera, police said.

A video posted online showed chest-deep water in several places.

Congressman Ricardo Menendez posted a video of water rushing into a house. “We had to evacuate our homes as the water levels were already rising rapidly and were pouring in furiously,” he tweeted.

Firefighting and emergencies New Zealand said its crews have responded to more than 700 incidents across the region and its staff have responded to more than 2,000 emergency calls.

District Manager Brad Mosby said:

Mosby said the crew rescued 126 people trapped in homes, cars, or involved in vehicle crashes.

Air New Zealand said it resumed domestic flights to and from Auckland on Saturday afternoon, but it is not yet known when international flights will resume.

“The flooding has had a significant impact on our Auckland operations,” said David Morgan, the airline’s chief operational security and safety officer. “We are working to get our customers to their final destinations and return the crew and aircraft to their proper locations. It may take several days before everything is back on track.”

Auckland Airport said in a series of updates on Twitter that hundreds of people were able to leave the airport early Saturday morning and head to their homes or accommodations after spending the night in the terminal.

“It has been a long and difficult night at Auckland Airport. Thank you everyone for your continued patience,” the airport wrote.

“Unfortunately, we are currently unable to return checked baggage to customers due to previous flooding of our baggage halls,” the airport wrote. “Your airline will arrange the return later.”

The airport on Friday said it was reducing runway operations after an arriving aircraft damaged runway lighting.

The storm also caused an Elton John concert to be canceled just before it started on Friday night.

Around 40,000 people were expected to attend each concert at Mount Smart Stadium. Thousands were already at the venue on Friday night when organizers decided to cancel shortly before John took the stage at 7:30 p.m.

The concert was billed as John’s final farewell tour. Frontier Touring, one of his promoters for the concert, tweeted that the concert was canceled due to unsafe weather conditions.

Many concert-goers who braved the conditions were frustrated that decisions were not made hours in advance.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s MetService warned of flash floods and unsafe driving conditions. On Friday night, transportation officials closed part of State Route 1, the main road that bisects Auckland.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown told Radio New Zealand: That’s the main problem. “

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