| WELLINGTON, April 5
WELLINGTON, April 5 Floods and landslips blocked
roads across New Zealand's north island on Wednesday after it
was swept overnight by the tail-end of powerful Cyclone Debbie,
which has left a trail of destruction in Australia.
In Auckland, the north island's biggest city, a cliff
collapsed on to an apartment block and more than 1,000 homes
were without power. A state of emergency was declared in two
other cities as river levels rose amid record rainfall.
No fatalities have been reported, but authorities warned
that a lull in the rains early on Wednesday would not last. A
renewed downpour over the next 24 hours brings the risk of flash
flooding in areas still recovering from a devastating earthquake
"Our ground saturation levels are very high which means our
water table is elevated, therefore isolated flooding is highly
likely," Civil Defence Controller Garry Towler said in an
New Zealand's mountainous terrain makes its roads
susceptible to landslides and many regions are still recovering
from November's 7.8-magnitude quake. Two cities were on alert
for possible mandatory evacuation later on Wednesday.
Cyclone Debbie, a category four storm, one short of the most
powerful level five, pounded Australia's Queensland state last
week, smashing tourist resorts, bringing down power lines and
shutting down coal mines.
Australian police on Tuesday retrieved three bodies from a
car beneath floodwaters in the swollen Tweed River of New South
Wales state, taking to six the number of people killed since the
In Australia the disaster zone stretched 1,000 km (600
miles) from Queensland's tropical resort islands and Gold Coast
tourist strip to the farmlands of New South Wales. About 20,000
homes were still without power on Tuesday, as flood waters
continued to rise in some areas.
Residents of Rockhampton, in central Queensland, were
advised to seek higher ground as the rising Fitzroy River
approaches a peak forecast for Thursday. Australian insurers
have declared the event a catastrophe, with state officials
saying recovery and repairs will take months.
(Editing by Andrew Roche)