WELLINGTON Hundreds of tourists in New Zealand's South Island were evacuated and power was cut in parts of Auckland as a storm battered the country in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Authorities in the town of Franz Josef, which is 7 km (4.35 miles) from the Franz Josef Glacier popular with international tourists, declared a state of emergency around 2 a.m. local time when a flooded river broke its banks and inundated hotels.
Around 186 tourists had to leave their accommodations and many spent the night in an emergency shelter, Westland Civil Defence spokesman Andrew Thompson told Reuters.
Further north in the country's largest city Auckland, gale-force winds of up to 110 km/h (68 mph) disrupted power supply and littered debris around the city. As many as 18,000 homes lost power, according to the country's largest electricity company Vector.
Heavy rains were leaving the South Island and moving north, and gale-force winds of up to 130 km/h (80.1 mph) were expected to continue in the North Island until the afternoon, according to weather forecaster Metservice.
(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Tom Heneghan)
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Updated Date: Mar 24, 2016 03:46:51 IST