New Zealand evacuates people ahead of Cyclone Cook

Indo Asian News Service

Wellington, April 13 (IANS) Evacuations were underway in New Zealand's North Island on Thursday as Cyclone Cook is scheduled to hit Bay of Plenty with full force, the media reported.

People in low-lying areas of Tauranga were asked to evacuate before it got dark, Radio New Zealand reported.

The Whakatane district council earlier asked people in Ohope's West End to leave their homes due to the risk of extreme storm surges and coastal inundation.

The storm is due to make landfall later in the day over Bay of Plenty. Officials have warned of high waves, storm surges and landslides.

It is expected to bring torrential rain and winds gusting at up to 150 km per hour, and has been classified as an extra-tropical cyclone.

It will then move to the South Island early Friday, reports the BBC.

Hundreds of homes in Bay of Plenty were without power, with more than 800 properties in Tauranga affected and 170 more in Waihi.

Parts of the North Island are now under a state of emergency, with residents in the low-lying parts of Coromandel, which has already seen landslides and closed roads, being told to leave immediately.

New Zealand weather officials say that Cyclone Cook will be the worst to hit the country since 1968.