Wellington: Eleven people have been reported dead, with more than 3,200 people still unaccounted for as serach and rescue operations continue in New Zealand after cyclone Gabrielle lashed the North Island last week.
More fatalities are possible, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins told media, adding that the government discussed initial recovery plans on Monday, with the cost of the recovery estimated to be about NZ$13 billion ($8 billion), reports Xinhua news agency.
As of Sunday evening, 3,215 people were still uncontactable, more than 20,000 homes and businesses were still without power, local media reported.
While a large number of the missing reports are expected to be the result of communication lines being down, the police have confirmed that there are several people missing in the Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti areas.
New Zealand’s resilience is being tested like never before, Hipkins said.
“Lives have been turned upside down … Many people have seen their homes and all of their possessions completely destroyed. Countless others have been displaced,” he said.
About 10,000 people have been displaced by the adverse event, the level of which New Zealand has not seen since the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011, the authorities said.
“This is the biggest natural disaster seen this century with a considerable scale of damage,” the Prime Minister said.
New Zealand declared state of emergency last Monday, the third time in the country’s history, followed by widespread power outages, flight cancellations and school closures in the North Island.
It is only two weeks after Auckland and the adjacent region Waikato were inundated by record downpours and floods.
Four people were killed in the previous disaster three weeks ago, mainly in Auckland, the country’s largest city.