New Zealand: Auckland floods turn roads to rivers
New Zealand authorities on Friday declared a state of emergency in the country's biggest city, Auckland, after torrential rain caused widespread flooding.
The flash floods have caused hazardous driving conditions and forced the city's airport to close, with all flights canceled at least till noon on Saturday, according to authorities.
A concert forming part of singer Elton John's farewell tour of the country also had to be canceled.
What is the situation in Auckland?
MetService, the national weather authority, said up to 250 millimeters (10 inches) of rain had fallen throughout the day on Friday, with more to be expected overnight to Saturday.
Roads have been flooded, causing major disruptions to traffic, and several terminals at the city's airport, which is the largest in New Zealand, were filled ankle-deep with water.
On Friday evening, transport authorities closed parts of State Highway 1, the main highway that runs through the city.
Videos were also posted online showing water flooding into residential homes.
Emergency services have faced huge numbers of calls for help, with people urged to contact emergency services only if they were in "life-threatening" danger.
The mayor of Auckland, Wayne Brown, told a news conference late on Saturday that a body had been found in a northern suburb, although it was not clear whether the death was a result of the flooding.
The country's new prime minister, Chris Hipkins, who was sworn in on Wednesday after Jacinda Ardern's shock resignation, wrote on Twitter that government agencies were "working flat out" to help.
I’m pleased an emergency declaration has been made due to flooding in Auckland tonight. All relevant govt agencies are working flat out to help in an extraordinary set of circumstances. The emergency response is underway and the Government is ready to assist as needed.— Chris Hipkins (@chrishipkins) January 27, 2023
Elton John concert canceled
Amid the chaos, a concert to be given by British star Elton John at the city's Mount Smart Stadium was called off shortly before it was to begin.
Organizers said the cancellation was caused by the unsafe weather conditions.
About 40,000 people were expected to attend the evening concert, with thousands already at the venue when the event was canceled.
The concert had been billed as part of a final farewell tour for John, 75, one of the world's best-known musicians.