The death toll from Cyclone Gabriel that hit New Zealand last Sunday has risen to nine, according to the latest toll released by authorities today, raising fears that the death toll could rise as searches continue for missing people in cut-off communities. of the North Island.

Police said a man found dead in the Hawke’s Bay area is “presumed to have died from conditions related to Cyclone Gabriel”, bringing the death toll to nine.

Repair work is underway for the damage caused by the cyclone. Tens of thousands of households were left without electricity, traffic was blocked on several roads and some areas were cut off. Residents took refuge on the roofs of flooded buildings, while landslides hit settlements.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins on Friday described New Zealand’s “worst natural disaster” in decades and warned the death toll was likely to rise after authorities had not restored contact with some cut-off communities.

Nearly 5,000 people have not been in contact with relatives or friends since the cyclone hit the country. Police believe most of them simply do not have access to communication networks, as 62,000 households remain without electricity. However, fears are expressed about the fate of around 10 missing persons.

Two temporary morgues have been set up in the Hawke’s Bay region, a mostly rural area that includes the towns of Napier, Hastings and Wairoa.

Cyclone Gabriel’s deadly passage follows last month’s flooding in Auckland, which killed four people.