New Zealand has deployed the military to evacuate civilians from the Canterbury region, on the South Island. Heavy rainfall caused floods in various places in the region, which led hundreds of people to leave their homes. Over fifty people have been evacuated by helicopter, writes press agency AP.
Local authorities have declared a state of emergency in Canterbury. Ashburton, a city with 35,000 inhabitants near Christchurch, is difficult to reach and leave, said Mayor Neil Brown at a press conference. Seventeen roads and four bridges are closed. Leaving the city north can only be done by air.
A passer-by filmed the high water level in the Ashburton River:
According to Brown, it looks like the weather is turning and the water level in the rivers is falling. “It has stopped raining, but the water level of the river is still very high.” Yet residents of Canterbury who withdraw are warned that the risk is not over yet. They are advised to be ready to leave the area if the situation changes.
New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern is going to Christchurch today to get informed of the situation.