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Death toll from cyclone in New Zealand rises as rescue operations continue

An NH90 helicopter travels from Base Auckland to Northland in response to the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle in this handout photo released on February 15, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

The death toll from Cyclone Gabrielle in New Zealand has risen to nine as the clean-up continue on the North Island with rescue teams working against the clock to find missing people. of a person in the hard-hit Hawke's Bay region is going on and would raise the death toll to nine.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the response to the crisis was "still underway and there are people across the North Island working around the clock."

Hipkins has depicted Gabrielle as the biggest natural disaster to hit New Zealand this century and warned that the death toll was likely to rise as crews made contact with hundreds of cut-off communities.

Only 885 people had marked themselves as safe, while almost 5,000 were registered with the police for being out of touch with family or friends on Friday.

Authorities confirmed that around 62,000 households were under blackout nationwide, out of which 40,000 were in Hawke’s Bay, a popular tourist destination with some remote towns with a population of about 170,000.

Hawke's Bay has been of particular concern to authorities, where approximately 2,000 people have found abode in evacuation centers.

Meanwhile, up to a thousand people in the region still remained out of reach of the emergency services, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Cyclone Gabrielle is estimated to have affected at least a third of New Zealand's population of five million.

On Tuesday, New Zealand announced a national state of emergency, which allowed it to streamline its response to the disaster.

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