Christchurch declares state of emergency

21 February 2018, 03:27 | Isaac Mcdaniel

Gita making landfall in South Island

Gita making landfall in South Island

Several homes were evacuated, dozens of schools closed and flights were canceled.

Seven local council areas, including the South Island's main city of Christchurch, declared a state of emergency on Tuesday as officials anticipated the worst.

A State of Emergency is still in place for some regions in the South Island following the impact of Cyclone Gita last night.

Air New Zealand said all flights to the capital would be grounded from 2.45pm as weather authorities issued warnings of severe weather and heavy rain and gusts of up to 150km/h.

The cyclone had been downgraded to a storm before it lashed New Zealand with fierce gusts and torrential downpours, but forecasters warned it was still likely to wreak havoc on Tuesday evening as it traversed the centre of the country. "Until the weather settles down we don't expect to make much headway in exposed areas", Marsh told the New Zealand Herald.

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Cyclone Gita hit the Pacific island nations of Fiji and Tonga last week, packing winds up to 275km/h (171 mph).

People are being urged to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel.

Gita then skirted the south of New Caledonia, but caused no major damage, before curving to the south and running towards the land of the long white cloud.

A satellite image from Nasa showing Cyclone Gita approaching New Zealand on Monday. Passengers are still able to fly in and out of Blenheim, Kapiti Coast and Palmerston North airports, but the airline has said it is monitoring the situation.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said earlier that troops had also been sent out to areas that were likely to be hardest hit by the storm.



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