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Torrential rain displaces hundreds in New Zealand 

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Torrential rain has forced hundreds of people from their homes in New Zealand as rivers overflowed their banks and waterlogged ground became unstable.

More than 400 homes have been evacuated and some declared uninhabitable in Nelson on the north coast of the South Island.

“The damage I saw in Nelson was heartbreaking and I think we are years away from a recovery,” Alec Louverdis, group controller for Nelson Tasman Civil Defence, told a news conference.

Heavy rains have also hit New Zealand’s North Island over the past 24 hours with some towns cut off, roads and houses under water.

Civil Defence Northland said in a Facebook post that some flooding was expected to ease as the tide falls later on Friday but some roads remain cut off.

‘Atmospheric river’ 

Experts have attributed the unseasonably wet weather to a narrow stream of water vapour, or an “atmospheric river”, above the country.

Weather forecaster Metservice said Nelson had 172 mm (6.8 inches) of rain since Tuesday, which is more than double its average August rainfall.

Another 190 mm of rain is expected in the hills near Nelson over the next day.

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Nelson residents have been told to save water because of problems with the city’s water system.

The civil defence service has also warned people to stay away from the coast because of a 3 metre (9.8 feet) surf on some beaches.

New Zealand Defence Force is helping with evacuations and flood prevention work.

Coming after weeks of wet weather, the latest rainstorms are dumping more water in New Zealand’s already sodden landscape.

A heavy rain warning remains in place until midnight on Friday.

 

Zainab Sa’id

Source Reuters
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