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New Zealand storm causes power cuts, tourists evacuated from hotels

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Updated: 08:14 GMT, Mar 24, 2016 | Published: 06:17 GMT, Mar 24, 2016 |
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Hundreds of tourists in New Zealand’s South Island were evacuated from some areas as a storm battered parts of the country in the early hours of Thursday (March 24) morning.

Authorities in the town of Franz Josef, which is 7 km (4.35 miles) from the Franz Josef Glacier popular with international tourists, declared a state of emergency around 2 a.m. local time when a flooded river burst its banks and inundated hotels.

Around 186 tourists had to leave their accommodation and many spent the night in an emergency shelter, Westland Civil Defence spokesman Andrew Thompson told Reuters.

Further north in the country’s largest city Auckland, gale-force winds of up to 110 km/h (68 mph) disrupted power supply and littered debris around the city.

As many as 18,000 homes were left without power, according to the country’s largest electricity company Vector.

Heavy rains were leaving the South Island and moving north, and gale-force winds of up to 130 km/h (80.1 mph) were expected to continue in the North Island until the afternoon, according to weather forecaster Metservice.