Torrential rain in Auckland left two people dead and two missing, police confirmed on Saturday, following widespread flooding across New Zealand’s largest city.
The bodies of two men were found in flood waters in separate incidents in a northern suburb, police said.
The flooding also swept a man away in a community south of Auckland, and another person is unaccounted for after a landslide brought down a house in the city centre.
The new prime minister, Chris Hipkins, said in a statement: “My thoughts are with everyone in Auckland as they wake up this morning to survey the damage and as they face an uncertain day ahead.”
The city has broken all its rainfall records – 249mm compared with a previous record of 161mm in 24 hours – making this its wettest day and month on record.
Police said they were “continuing to respond to a high number of calls to weather-related incidents”.
The flash flooding turned many of Auckland’s roads into rivers on Friday, and the wild weather closed the city’s airport, the country’s largest, with ankle-deep water in some terminals.
Airport authorities said there would be no flights in or out of the facility before mid-day on Saturday.
Hipkins, who was sworn in on Wednesday after Jacinda Ardern’s resignation, wrote on Twitter that government agencies were “working flat out” to help.
His plans to visit the city were delayed because of the poor conditions, he said, adding: “I’m advised movement around Auckland remains difficult.”
Hipkins said the national crisis management centre, housed under the parliament building in the capital, Wellington, was helping to coordinate the emergency response.
The persistent downpour saw the cancellation of Elton John’s concert on Friday at Auckland’s Mount Smart stadium amid concerns for crowd safety.
Emergency services have been swamped by calls for help as civil defence officials warned residents to stay home.
Auckland residents have been urged to contact emergency services only if facing “life-threatening” danger.
Auckland’s mayor, Wayne Brown, warned late on Friday that the clean-up operation would be a “major, major job”.