A general view of damaged property after a storm battered Titirangi, a suburb of New Zealand's West Auckland area, on 13 February 2023. Thousands of homes in New Zealand were without power and flights were grounded Monday as a tropical storm lashed the north of the country/Diego Opatowski/AFP.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND — A fifth person has died in New Zealand in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle, police said Thursday, amid fears the death toll could climb further.

More heavy rain was forecast for the badly-hit eastern areas of the country, where the disaster has severed roads, collapsed houses, cut power and displaced over 10,000 people.

National police said in a statement Thursday that a person is “believed to have died after being caught in flood water” in the Gisborne region, bringing the death toll in the Hawke’s Bay area on the east coast to four.

Earlier, a firefighter was reported dead when a house collapsed west of Auckland in the north.

New Zealand is under a national state of emergency after Cyclone Gabrielle bore down on its northern coast on Sunday and several people are still missing in areas saturated by floodwaters.

The cyclone has faded into the Pacific, but New Zealand’s MetService warned of further downpours Thursday of up to 40 millimetres per hour in eastern areas already flooded.

Military helicopters have had to winch hundreds of stranded storm survivors to safety from rooftops surrounded by rising floodwaters.

Government officials estimate 10,500 people have so far been displaced by the cyclone with 9,000 made homeless in eastern regions alone.


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