By Lucy Craymer
WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Torrential rains hit New Zealand’s South Island on Wednesday, flooding rivers, houses and roads and forcing roughly 200 households to evacuate, media reported.
Around 70 homes in Nelson, at the north of the South Island, and a further 140 homes on the West Coast were evacuated, according to estimates by local television network 1News.
Media footage from the region showed flooded rivers, water washing over roads and teams using rescue boats to check on flooded areas.
New Zealand weather provider Metservice said that mountain ranges in the west and north of South Island could receive up to 500 mm (19 inches) of rain between Wednesday and Friday.
States of Emergency have been declared in Nelson and on the West Coast.
The civil defence controller for the Buller district on the West Coast, Al Lawn, said in a statement that some people in the town of Westport were being asked to evacuate before it gets dark because the Buller River was likely to reach peak levels on Thursday.
However authorities were not evacuating all of the town as forecast ranges for river levels have reduced.
The latest storms follow weeks of unseasonably wet weather to hit New Zealand. There are currently severe weather warnings in place for parts of the South Island, while the North Island is also experiencing bad weather.
(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)