SYDNEY: New Zealand police are searching for eight people still missing after Cyclone Gabriel struck two weeks ago, authorities said on Sunday, amid further wild weather warnings for the country’s North Island.
Gabriel hit the island’s northern region on February 12, then lashed the east coast, leaving at least 11 dead and thousands displaced.
“The remaining number of people includes those who, for various reasons, do not engage with the authorities,” New Zealand police said early Sunday.
“Regardless, making contact with the remaining eight remains a priority for police and our staff are exploring all avenues to try and locate them.”
More than 6,000 were missing in the immediate aftermath of the storm, which cut off communications in many areas, but that number has dwindled as recovery efforts continue. Severe weather hit the North Island again on Friday, with heavy rainfall prompting further evacuations in Hawke’s Bay, one of the regions hardest hit by Gabriel.
The storms caused flash flooding and evacuation warnings in and around Auckland, the state’s largest city with a population of about 1.6 million.
On Sunday, New Zealand weather forecaster MetService warned that storms were possible later in the day, particularly across the North Island and the top of the South Island.
The Emergency Management Agency for Auckland has warned residents of the city to prepare for more rain, which is forecast to fall in the evening. “The risk of thunderstorms and localized showers over parts of the country increases tomorrow,” Metservice said.
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The forecaster said two tropical cyclones were possible in the coming week, but added: “At this stage, the risk of a direct impact on New Zealand is relatively low.”