One confirmed dead after tornado hits Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The tornado caused significant damage to roofs of buildings in its path.

A short-lived tornado with an average wind speed of 200 kilometres per hour hit Auckland's North Shore at around 3pm NZT (3am UTC), passing through the suburb of Albany and dissipating across the harbour near Point Chevalier.

Among the hardest-hit buildings was the Albany Mega Centre, the local shopping mall, which had its roof torn off. Emergency services were seen tending to a man in his thirties in the car park of the shopping centre, but were unable to resuscitate him. Civil Defence originally stated there were two dead and fourteen known injuries, but later revised the death toll to one. North Shore Hospital is currently treating up to twelve casualties, including one man who has critical injuries, while others are in Waitakere and Auckland Hospitals.

Trees and cars were swept up in the tornado, causing significant damage to property and trapping residents in the vicinity. The North Western motorway was closed but has been reopened, although traffic congestion is still an issue with buses following alternative routes and trains restricted to a temporary speed limit. Auckland Council has activated their emergency coordination centre and the extent of the damage is still being assessed. Prime Minister John Key says that the New Zealand government is monitoring the situation.

This tornado is the second one to hit Albany in the last twenty years, with a 1991 tornado also having a death toll of one.