One person dies, 2 injured after tornado hit New Zealand suburb

June 19, 2021
Videograb of a tornado sweeping through the Auckland suburb on Saturday.
Videograb of a tornado sweeping through the Auckland suburb on Saturday.

AUCKLAND — One person has died and another two injured in a tornado that hit New Zealand's South Auckland suburb, the radio station RNZ reported on Saturday.

The storm hit the suburb earlier in the day and resulted in destroyed roofs, broken windows and toppled trees.

According to the broadcaster, a worker was killed as the tornado reached a freight container hub in the area. The other two have been hospitalized.

The storm lifted roofs, toppled trees, shattered windows, downed powerlines and sent trampolines flying in the suburb of Papatoetoe at around 8:30 a.m.

A worker was killed when the tornado struck a freight container hub in Wiri Station Road.

Two others were taken to Middlemore Hospital — one is in a moderate condition and the other has minor injuries. Several containers were toppled by the strong wind.

Ports of Auckland said it operated the site with several other businesses but none of the injured people worked for the company.

It said it is shocked by the freak event and its thoughts are with the people affected. A Civil Defense welfare center has been opened in Newbury St, Otara.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, who visited the scene this afternoon, said the center was helping people whose homes were no longer habitable and supporting others with whatever was needed.

"I'm standing where the tornado went through and the devastation is pretty remarkable," Goff said. "House after house with damage to their roofs, their fences blown over.

Many homes were no longer weatherproof, as windows had been smashed by flying debris or roofs damaged, he said.

"People are working flat out here to get tarpaulins over the roofs before the weather breaks again.

"The power is off until such time as all the power lines can be repaired. The damage to power lines is quite extensive — there are lines down everywhere."

Despite the devastation, Goff said the tornado had brought out the best in people, with one building company helping people weather proof their homes for free.

More than 20 fire crews from across Auckland are helping with the cleanup and a Fire and Emergency command unit is at the scene.

RNZ reporter Katie Doyle, who was at the fire service cordon at Freyburg Avenue in Papatoetoe, described it as carnage saying there had been a lot of damage.

She said the street was strewn with branches and one tree had been completely uprooted. There were pieces of corrugated iron ripped away, power lines down and roof tiles ripped off by the tornado, she said.

MetService meteorologist Andrew James said the tornado was due to a front that moved towards Auckland overnight. James said the bad weather has now moved away from Auckland. — Agencies

June 19, 2021
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