Cyclone Gabrielle hit the top region of the North Island on 12 February and tracked up the east coast, causing widespread devastation. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has called Gabrielle New Zealand’s biggest natural disaster this century.
Phil Yeo | Getty Images News | Getty Images
The death toll from Cyclone Gabrielle in New Zealand climbed to 11 on Sunday as thousands of people were missing a week after the storm hit the country’s North Island.
The cyclone hit the top region of the North Island on 12 February and tracked down the east coast, causing widespread devastation. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has called Gabrielle New Zealand’s biggest natural disaster this century.
On Sunday, police said two more people had died in the hard-hit Hawke’s Bay area in circumstances related to the cyclone, bringing the death toll to 11.
About 5,608 people remained uncontactable across the country, while 1,196 had registered as safe, police said.
Authorities have previously said they are very afraid of a small number, around 10, of those still missing.
Recovery efforts continued, with Auckland Council teams carrying out rapid structural assessments of damaged homes in the coastal areas of Muriwai and Piha, about 60 km (40 miles) west of the country’s largest city, Auckland.
Rescuers and the military on Saturday dropped critical supplies by helicopter to communities stranded since the cyclone, which washed away farms, bridges and livestock and flooded homes.
Around 62,000 households were without power throughout the country on Saturday. Of these, almost 40,000 were in Hawke’s Bay, out of a population of about 170,000.
Prime Minister Hipkins has said that crisis management is “still ongoing” and that people across the North Island are “working around the clock”.
Police have sent an extra 100 officers to Hawke’s Bay and nearby Tairawhiti, including to isolated areas, and the New Zealand Herald reported roadblocks around a rural Hawke’s Bay village to deter looters.
“Targeting people in a crisis is abhorrent and we do not condone it,” said Police Superintendent Jeanette Park.