Cyclone Gabrielle: 4928 remain unaccounted for

Police have confirmed nine people have been killed as communities continue to be impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle and the devastation caused by the most destructive weather event “of this century”.

4,928 people remain missing, authorities say, and police have “elevated concerns” about about 10 of them.

Concerns for food, water, power and damage remain focused on the ground on the east coast and in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay.

National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) director Roger Ball said fueling Wairoa was a priority.

A BP spokesman confirmed to 1News that their dealership, working with Civil Defense, delivered two trucks of mostly diesel and a small amount of 91 fuel to Wairoa today.

There is also major damage and road closures in Northland and Coromandel.

Ball said they had reached out to 90% of Gisborne’s isolated communities and are aiming to reach 100% by the end of the day.

In Hawke’s Bay, 90% of cell towers are back in service. 100% is operational in Northland and just 30% in the Gisborne area, although that remains a focus, Ball said.

Major state road closures in the North Island. Get the latest here

Some power has been restored to residents in Napier, but widespread outages remain in the area.

It comes as Vodafone CEO Jason Paris said on twitter that generators were stolen from the provider’s mobile sites and connectivity was lost after they got them up and running.

“Police are patrolling the sites and most of our @vodaphone NZ generators are tracked via GPS so we know who the perpetrators are.”

Meanwhile in Auckland, some rural parts of the city – including Piha and Muriwai – remain at risk of more landslides, with some residents being ordered to evacuate yesterday.

Auckland Emergency Management has urged people to stay away from west coast beaches and Karekare and Te Henga Bethells if they are not residents: “We want Auckland residents to stay safe and ensure emergency crews and response teams have access to those communities have all the support they need.”

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And a spokesman for GNS Science added that there will be “tens of thousands of landslides” as a result of Cyclone Gabrielle: “The atmospheric flow that drenched Nelson and Marlborough late last year caused more than 4000 landslides, and the Kaikoura earthquake in the Year 2016 caused almost 30,000 slips.

“This event will have caused significantly more than that.”

READ MORE: Cyclone Gabrielle: How to help and find help

Authorities have warned that rumors and false information about the recovery of the cyclone are spreading on social media.

Officials say to only rely on information from official and authoritative sources.

Nine dead, death toll expected to rise

The Gabrielle death toll is expected to rise in the coming days.

In a 10am update, police confirmed another person had died at Hawke’s Bay.

“The person is believed to have died in relation to Cyclone Gabrielle. More details will be announced as they become available,” a spokesman said.

The number of people killed by the cyclone is now nine, as a result of flooding and landslides.

The latest death is reportedly the father of former NRL champion and Kiwi star Issac Luke. “See you soon, dad. I love you,” he said on Instagram.

READ MORE: Former Kiwis star Issac Luke’s father killed in cyclone – report

Police told 1News last night that they must follow official coroner and notification procedures before confirming further increases in the death toll.

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Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said yesterday people need to be prepared that there will be more deaths but that false rumors are being spread on social media.

READ MORE: Temporary morgues in Hawke’s Bay as death toll expected to rise

“It’s not like I’m aware that there are many, many and many out there that we don’t report on. We’re still picking up one or two [fatalities] at once,” he said.

“We will certainly share this information as soon as possible, but I’ve heard some outlandish claims at the moment that there is no evidence to back it up.”

Many communities remain cut off

Many rural communities around Gisborne, Napier and Hastings remain cut off.

Thousands could not be contacted, PM Hipkins said yesterday.

“A team of 80 people is now working to narrow down that list as quickly as possible and prioritize contact with those most likely to be missing,” he said.

Deputy Police Commissioner Glen Dunbar confirmed at 1pm today that the latest number of uncontacted people was 4928, although police are working to cross-check those reports with 885 registered as safe.

READ MORE: Cyclone Gabrielle in Hawke’s Bay: ‘I’d basically call it an apocalypse’

Hawke’s Bay Civil Defender Ian Macdonald told the media yesterday that there are still “dozens and maybe hundreds” of communities that have not been reached by the authorities.

“Communities can be anything from a thousand people in a community in the back of Rissington to just dozens of people or just a few people,” he said.

READ MORE: Flooded cemetery exposes graves and bones in Hawke’s Bay town of Omahu

Focus is on clean water – Mayor of Gisborne

Hundreds are still without water or electricity in Gisborne and the area’s mayor says the cleanup hasn’t even started, reports RNZ.

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Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz says they are still trying to get the water system working.

Tairāwhiti was one of the worst-hit regions after Cyclone Gabrielle and Stoltz says they are just trying to keep residents safe.

She says repairing the water works, the auxiliary water works and State Highway 2 are among the top priorities for the area.

Additional police officers will arrive at Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay today and Sunday to assist with the recovery effort.

They say even though the worst of the weather has passed, the regions still face significant and potentially life-threatening challenges.

Many rivers remain flooded at dangerously high water levels and police say people should stay away and not endanger themselves.

READ MORE: Forestry pruning destroyed Tairāwhiti, who should foot the bill?

They say many people are worried about family and friends and more than 4500 people have been registered as uncontactable.

The Navy’s HMNZS Canterbury is also en route to Hawke’s Bay to assist with relief efforts. The ship will arrive in Lyttleton on Sunday, likely taking fresh water and gear with it.

Blue skies across the country while Kiwis donate

Severe weather has left Aotearoa’s shores, but New Zealanders are helping the worst-hit regions recover. Millions have been donated to the relief effort so far.

The New Zealand Red Cross has deployed disaster response and support teams across the North Island to support civil defense and emergency management teams.

They provide equipment such as stretchers, hygiene kits, generators and bedding, as well as emotional support for those most affected.


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