Grounded by Gita: cyclone pummels New Zealand

Marsha Scott
February 21, 2018

Cyclone Gita hit the Pacific island nations of Fiji and Tonga last week, packing winds up to 275 km/h.

Of that $500,000 would be given as immediate relief to Tonga and another $500,000 would be allocated to it from the India-UN Development Partnership Fund (I-UNDPF), the UN Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) announced Monday. It was the worst cyclone to hit the country in 60 years, destroying or damaging an estimated 1400 houses.

Cyclones of that intensity can have gusts between 225 and 279 kilometres per hour.

Gita, which was downgraded on Tuesday from a tropical cyclone to a storm, is already causing flooding in parts of the South Island with waves up to 7m (22ft) high.

Christchurch and two other districts declared a state of emergency Tuesday.

Some residents living alongside Christchurch's Heathcote River abandoned their homes and evacuated the area as the river banks threatened to burst. "These will not reopen until the risk of flooding has gone".

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Mr Howard said: "This is not a good time to be trying to do this safely".

More than 40 schools and preschools shut in the upper South Island, while mayors urged people to stay home. "This is not a good situation for those in seafront properties", he said.

"The high-impact severe weather across central New Zealand should then ease as Gita moves away on Wednesday", a MetService forecast said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said earlier that troops had also been sent out to areas that were likely to be hardest hit by the storm.

While most of the South Island is out of the woods when it comes to the wild weather, a heavy rain warning remains in place for Dunedin and North Otago.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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