Some 58,000 people were without power Monday afternoon in New Zealand, according to Roger Ball, the head of the National Emergency Management Agency Roger Ball, due to a tropical storm battering the north of the country. .
A state of emergency has been declared in five regions in the north of the archipelago, affecting nearly a third of the country's 5.1 million inhabitants.
Although the storm was downgraded from its cyclone status as it approached New Zealand on Sunday, downpours and high winds downed trees, damaged roads and brought down power lines.
One person is missing, police said. She was on board a boat from which she had issued a distress signal Monday morning near the island of the Great Barrier (north).
New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, based in Wellington, was among thousands of people stranded in Auckland (north), after flights were canceled due to the storm.
"Things will get worse before they get better," Mr. Hipkins told a news conference on Monday, calling on people to "prepare" and "stay indoors if you can".
Mr Hipkins said the government was considering declaring a national state of emergency for only the third time in the country's history, but that was not necessary at the moment.
Wind gusts of up to 140 km/h battered northern New Zealand, and gusts of up to 110 km/h were recorded at the Auckland Harbor Bridge.
Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty had warned it would be a "critical day" due to the "highly dangerous" combination of high winds and heavy rain.
Auckland, the country's largest city with 1.6 million people, is barely recovering from flash floods that killed four people in late January and forced thousands from their homes.
The weather conditions have disrupted New Zealand's transport network, with cancellations of flights and train and bus journeys.
Air New Zealand said it had canceled 509 flights so far, but traffic was expected to resume as normal on Tuesday.
The airline said that the movements of some 10,000 international customers have been disrupted.
13/02/2023 10:22:57 - Wellington (AFP) - © 2023 AFP