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The number of people who died in New Zealand due to Cyclone Gabriel reached five, while 10,500 people had to leave their homes, New Zealand police announced today.

The body of the fourth victim, a child believed to have drowned due to “rising waters”, was found the day before in the village of Exdale, in the eastern part of the country, according to the police.

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The other three victims were found earlier in cyclone-hit areas: one at a firefighter missing site after a house collapsed amid the weather in West Auckland, the other two in Hawke’s Bay in the North Island, authorities said. .

The New Zealand military has deployed three NH90 helicopters to the Hawke’s Bay area, which has been hit hard by the cyclone. They rescued workers, families and pets who climbed onto the roofs of houses to escape the rising water level.

Strong winds and torrential rains hit the North Island, home to more than three-quarters of the country’s population (about 5 million), causing floods and landslides.

Authorities are now assessing the damage in isolated towns where floods inundated roads and disrupted telecommunications.

About 10,500 people had to be evacuated from their homes, according to the emergency minister. Another 160,000 residents are without electricity, although the network is gradually being restored.

The government of Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, who has described Cyclone Gabriel as the worst weather event “of the century”, has declared a national state of emergency for a week.

Cyclone Gabriel formed on February 8 off the northeastern coast of Australia in the Coral Sea before crossing the South Pacific and making landfall in New Zealand.

According to scientists, it was fueled by unusually high seawater temperatures, which are a combined effect of climate change and the La Niña phenomenon, a meteorological anomaly.