Parts of New Zealand declare emergency as storm hits

Parts of New Zealand have declared an emergency as a powerful storm hits, causing flooding and forcing some people to evacuate their homes.

The storm system is the remnants of Cyclone Gita, which last week ripped through the Pacific nation of Tonga, destroying homes, churches and the historic Parliament House.

The winds have weakened as the storm has arced through the Pacific, but it is still causing disruption in New Zealand.

National carrier Air New Zealand cancelled flights on Tuesday afternoon from the capital Wellington in anticipation of the storm, while the city of Christchurch declared an emergency.

The military has been deployed to some towns where the storm is expected to have the biggest impact.

Dozens of schools have been closed and power outages were affecting thousands of homes.

Christchurch residents were asked to keep showers short and delay washing clothes as the city's waste water system came under pressure from rain flowing into it.

The meteorological agency MetService predicted that severe gale-force winds with damaging gusts would continue until early on Wednesday and urged people to secure items that might be blown away. It also predicted waves could reach 20ft in some places.

However, the agency later cancelled warnings for some regions, including a heavy rain warning for Wellington, because the storm path had moved away from that area.

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