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Heavy rains in New Zealand swamp Auckland

By Nick Perry | Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Torrential rain and wild weather in Auckland on Friday caused disruptions throughout New Zealand’s largest city.

Video posted online showed waist-deep water in some places, and authorities were asking residents in flood-prone areas to be prepared in case they needed to evacuate.

Lawmaker Ricardo Menéndez posted a video of water surging into residential houses. “We’ve just had to evacuate our home as the water was already rising rapidly and coming in aggressively,” he tweeted.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand said it had taken over 1,000 calls for help, but that many calls were from people who had flooded properties. The agency was urging callers to clear the lines for those in immediate danger.

The unseasonable weather also caused some flights to be delayed or canceled.

Auckland Airport said it had reduced its runway operations after an arriving aircraft had damaged runway lighting.

“This is largely impacting international arrivals and departures and larger aircraft travelling domestically,” the airport wrote on Twitter. “Our maintenance team is on site and is working hard to fix the damage.”

Fans leave Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand, Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, where about 40,000 people were expected to attend an Elton John concert. Julea Dalley/New Zealand Herald via VFAB

The storm also caused an Elton John concert to be canceled just before it was due to start.

About 40,000 people were expected to attend the evening concert at Mt Smart Stadium in New Zealand’s largest city. Thousands were already at the venue when organizers decided to cancel not long before John was due to take the stage at 7:30 p.m.

The concert was billed as a final farewell tour for John. Frontier Touring, one of the concert promoters, tweeted the concert had been canceled due to unsafe weather conditions.

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Many concertgoers who had braved the conditions were frustrated the decision hadn’t been made hours earlier.

Weather agency MetService warned of flash flooding and hazardous driving conditions. On Friday night, transport authorities closed parts of State Highway 1, the main highway that bisects Auckland.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown told Radio New Zealand, “We need the rain to stop. That’s the main issue.”

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