Police have received more than 1,400 reports of missing or uncontactable people across the North Island in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle.
Four people have now also been confirmed as deceased following the storm. They include a child, whose body was located in Eskdale shortly before 2pm today. The child is believed to have been caught in rising water yesterday.
The body of a volunteer firefighter was also recovered from a landslide in Muriwai early this afternoon.
Yesterday afternoon, a person died in a landslip on a rural property on Matahorua Road in Putorino. Emergency personnel also found the body of a person on the shore in Bay View at Napier last night.
“Police extend their condolences to the families of those who have died and continue to make enquiries into the circumstances,” Police said in a statement.
Police say that as of this afternoon, 1,442 people have been registered via the Police 105 online reporting form as uncontactable. There are 111 reports of people now safe.
The vast majority of reports are from Eastern District (Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti) alone, with the remainder from across the North Island.
“While we expect a large number of the reports to be the result of communication lines being down, Police can confirm there are several people missing in the Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti areas, for whom we have grave concerns,” Police said.
“With other storm-affected districts reporting they are able to manage their response within existing resources, Police National Headquarters is now focussed on critical support for Eastern District.
“We are redeploying more than 70 staff from Bay of Plenty, Central, Wellington, Tasman, Canterbury and Southern districts, as well as the Royal New Zealand Police College, to Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti over the next 48 hours. Those staff will support recovery efforts and provide community reassurance.”
Police yesterday deployed 12 Search and Rescue specialist staff to assist with recovery efforts in Eastern District, which are continuing today.
“We are aware that many of our staff in the Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne areas have themselves been affected by the storm, but they have continued to work hard to support rescue efforts, manage road closures, and make contact with isolated people.”
“Communications into and out of the area continue to be challenging, however, as telecommunication services start to come back online, Police anticipate an increase in the number of reports of missing people, found people, damage to property, and demand for basic resources such as food, water, and fuel,” Police said.
In Tāmaki Makaurau and Northland, the focus continues to be supporting the ongoing recovery.
“Police are continuing to carry out reassurance patrolling throughout the regions and in affected areas.”
“Police urge anyone concerned about friends and family to try their usual methods of communication first, whether that’s a phone number, email, social media or a pre-planned emergency meeting place.
“When all means of contact have been exhausted, anyone with genuine concerns for a person’s safety is asked to provide as much information as possible via the 105 online form: https://forms.police.govt.nz/person-inquired-for.”
Police will use that information to make further enquiries, as and when able.
“We continue to urge those who can to call 111 if they are in immediate danger.”
“Local Civil Defence Emergency Management groups will issue updates and information as their districts enter a recovery phase.”
More information can be found on the National Emergency Management website.