A violent tornado has ripped through Auckland’s north, killing two and hospitalising ten in a freak storm that has shaken disaster-weary New Zealanders.
A twister ripped the roof off a shopping mall, overturned cars, uprooted trees and sent shopper running when it hit the suburb of Albany about 3pm (1pm AEST) on Tuesday.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key confirmed that two people had died and a further ten were being treated at two Auckland hospitals.
Most suffered from multiple lacerations and injuries caused by flying debris, the ambulance service said.
A terrifying twister travelled south at 200 kilometres per hour across a 5 kilometre strip, leaving a path of destruction that had bystanders recounting images from the Hollywood disaster movie Twister.
Amateur footage from the scene captured roofing iron and other debris flying across streets and car-parks.
Witnesses reported insulation Pink Batts raining from the sky, and said that the sound reminded them of the rumbling of the killer earthquake that hit New Zealand’s southern city of Christchurch on February 22nd, killing 181 people.
One witness, Julie Carter, told journalists she saw three children in a car that was thrown up into the air in a car park and landed upside down. Another vehicle was tossed about 60 metres, she said.
Samantha Davey, an employee at Albany Optemerists, told Radio New Zealand she could see sheets of metal flying through the air near the mall.
“All we could see was a big, black cloud spinning about it and debris everywhere. We’re above the mall so were OK, but the mall has been hit, we can see there’s part of the roof missing and there are cars tossed about.”
Martin Sibrits, of Regal Sports, told Fairfax New Zealand the tornado was ‘simply unbelievable’.
“It was huge. I could see pieces of iron through the air, a hundred metres up,” he said.
He said a neighbouring hardware store had taken the biggest hit.
by Sasha Dubronitz