Cyclone Gabrielle: Death toll rises to 11, Civil Defence targets isolated communities

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Flooding in Napier NZ
Flooding in Napier after Cyclone Gabrielle, as seen from the air. Image: NZDF/RNZ News

RNZ News

The number of people in Aotearoa New Zealand whose deaths have been officially linked to Cyclone Gabrielle has risen to 11, with confirmation of two further deaths today.

In a statement, police said a person who passed away in their Onekawa home on Thursday is “believed to have died in circumstances related to Cyclone Gabrielle”.

The news was soon followed by confirmation of another death in Crownthorpe, Hastings police reported last night.

Police said this person was also believed to have died in circumstances related to the storm.

Both deaths have been referred to the Coroner.

Meanwhile, Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence said the focus of its cyclone response efforts remains reaching isolated rural communities today, including Wairoa.

Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence said the focus of its cyclone response efforts remained reaching isolated rural communities today, including Wairoa.

Yesterday 12 civilian helicopter flights landed in cut-off communities with food, water, and generators, and to check on welfare.

Edaan Lennan said those efforts would continue daily, and some communities would need to be revisited and stocked up with supplies.

He said teams were also working to arrange temporary accommodation for those in evacuation centres whose homes had been destroyed.

Five arrested for looting
Police are stressing safety as their number one priority amid lootings in flood-stricken areas, and they also urged people affected by Cyclone Gabrielle to report if they are safe.

As of 2pm Saturday, there have been 5608 reports of uncontactable people registered and 1196 reports from people registering that they are safe.

With communications slowly returning to areas severely affected by the cyclone, police are asking for people who have been uncontactable to friends and family to report themselves as being safe online as soon as possible.

As of Saturday night, five people have been arrested after a spate of lootings across Hawke’s Bay.

More than 100 extra officers were brought into the Eastern District, including to areas that were cut off from Cyclone Gabrielle.

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

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