New Zealand has suffered its worst floods in 50 years. At least two people have?
New Zealand has suffered its worst floods in 50 years. At least two people have died and thousands have been made homeless.
SYNOPSIS: Wellington has been a city under water since Monday (20 December). Torrential rains caused widespread flooding and a child was killed in a landslide which struck a camping centre just outside the capital. 14 other children and three adults escaped unhurt.
Thousands of city workers were stranded when the rains halted commuter trains. During the day hundreds of families were forced to abandon their homes. Some were airlifted to safety by helicopters. Emergency services were set up to provide shelter.
Among the helicopters was a craft from the Untied States coastguard icebreaker Burton Island, which is visiting Wellington on its way to Antarctica. But on Wednesday (22 December) heavy rain swept the capital again, hampering cleanup operations after Monday's 11-inch (280 millimetre) deluge and causing some panic. More than an inch (25 millimetres) of rain fell in four hours.
A civil defence alert was declared. It was lifted some hours later, but an elderly man collapsed and died when he was being evacuated. Insurance officials have estimated the damage to property caused by the floods at 30 million New Zealand dollars (GBP17 million sterling).
The New Zealand capital is facing the mammoth task of clearing up the smashed houses, debris and mud left by one of the worst rainstorms in its history. Mayors in cities and towns throughout the country have launched cash appeals to help brighten Christmas for children in the flooded areas -- and local radio stations have already raised 100,000 New Zealand dollars (GBP 56,000 sterling).