Eleven people have died as a result of Cyclone Gabrielle in New Zealand, and many more are still unaccounted for a week after the storm hit the North Island of the country.
On February 12, a cyclone struck the northernmost part of the island before moving down the east coast and wreaking havoc. The largest natural disaster to hit New Zealand in the last century, according to Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, is Gabrielle.
Police said that two additional persons had perished on Sunday in the severely damaged Hawke's Bay due to cyclone-related causes.
Hipkins warned reporters in Wellington's capital that additional fatalities were possible because 6431 people were still unaccounted for and just 3216 had been deemed safe.Life had been "turned upside down" by the tragedy, and rehabilitation remained "a steep mountain ahead," he said, citing the damaged roads, limited access to some communities, and hampered telecommunications.
According to him, many crops had been destroyed, supply systems were interrupted, making it difficult to move commodities, and 28,000 houses still lacked electricity.
The prime minister stated that "the actual depth of the devastation and tragedy become evident with every passing day."
One of the 12 offers of foreign assistance that have been made so far will be travelling to New Zealand in the coming days to help with recovery, according to Hipkins. 27 Australian emergency personnel are helping in the humanitarian operation.