September 23, 2017

Tornado strikes Auckland, New Zealand – 1 dead, dozens injured

The aftermath of the tornado at the Albany Megacentre - Photo:Rob Crawford

A tornado has struck Auckland, New Zealand, with reports a shopping mall roof has collapsed and cars have been tossed aside.

Police on the North Shore have confirmed there are “numerous injuries” caused by the tornado.

North Shore Hospital spokesman Paul Patton confirmed one person had died in the terrifying tornado which had winds averaging 200km/h, forecasters says.

The Ambulance service has confirmed that a second person has also died.

Witnesses say the body of a man in his thirties was found in the old Placemakers carpark near the shopping centre. Three patients in hospital are said to be in critical condition.

The tornado struck without warning about 3pm local time and left a 5km trail of detruction, dying out near Pt Chevalier to the west of Auckland Central. Tornadoes are not common in New Zealand.

A North Shore police spokesman said emergency services were busy fielding calls from the public with reports of damage to homes and cars.

The spokesman said it was too early to say how many people had been hurt but there were calls reporting ”numerous” people were injured.

The roof has collapsed at the Albany Mega Centre in Auckland and the building is being evacuated, reports say. Police have confirmed injuries in the area.

Foodstuffs has confirmed its Pak ‘n Save Albany store suffered significant damage from the tornado.

The Fire Service has confirmed it has multiple appliances on the way to the mall.

Emergency calls are coming in over an incident in the area, a Fire Service communications spokesman says.

Ross Sims of Mainline Music said it sounded like a jet engine.

“I thought, geez that plane is low but when I looked outside it was this giant big black cloud,” he said.

He could see large bits of iron “flying into the air” as the tornado hit the mall.

Stuff.co.nz quotes Martin Sibrits, of Rebel Sports store, saying the tornado was huge.

“It was simply unbelievable, it was huge. I could set bit pieces of iron flying through the air, 100 metres up,” he said.

From his position it looked as if the Placemakers hardware store had taken the biggest hit. “That place is looking like a bomb site.”

He could see injured people getting help. Many of the cars in the parking lot had been damaged.