Cyclone Gabrielle: NZ death toll rises, ‘grave concerns’ for several missing

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A massive NZ rescue and aid operation follows the devastation left by Cyclone Gabrielle, especially in the Hawke's Bay and Gisborne regions
A massive New Zealand rescue and aid operation follows the devastation left by Cyclone Gabrielle, especially in the Hawke's Bay and Gisborne regions. Image: RNZ montage

RNZ News

As a huge effort ramps up in Aotearoa New Zealand to restore essential services to thousands of people in Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay, police hold “grave concerns” for some reported missing.

Five people have been confirmed killed in the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle.

In Hawke’s Bay, a child was caught in rising water in the settlement of Eskdale, a woman died in a landslide, a body was found on the shore at Bay View, and a body believed to be caught in flood waters was found in Gisborne.

The body of a volunteer firefighter who had been missing in Muriwai, near Auckland, since Monday night was recovered yesterday.

By Wednesday, more than 1400 people had been reported as “uncontactable” using the police 105 online reporting form, mostly in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti.

While police expected a large number of the reports to be the result of communication lines being down, they confirmed they held “grave concerns” for several people missing in the Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti areas.

The navy ship HMNZS Manawanui is due in Tairāwhiti this morning with water supplies, and HMNZS Te Mana will sail to Napier to supply Wairoa with water and other essentials.

The NZ Defence Force expects to move a water treatment facility to Wairoa, and a rapid relief team that reached the town on Wednesday will be handing out up to 500 food packages.

Engineers and roading crews are checking bridges and clearing roads throughout both regions.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins is due to fly to Gisborne today in what will be his first in-person look at the scale of destruction from Cyclone Gabrielle.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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