The largest and busiest airport in New Zealand had to close as the city of Auckland was hit by torrential rain and flooding.
A state of emergency was declared in Auckland on Jan. 27 and residents in some areas were encouraged to evacuate. Videos show waist-deep flood waters and more than 1,000 calls for help have been placed to the city’s emergency services.
“This is going to be a horrible night for thousands of Aucklanders and their families,” said Mayor Wayne Brown after declaring the state of emergency. “My thoughts are with those Aucklanders affected, including many of those who have been evacuated from their homes and have a hard night ahead.”
Auckland International Airport closed and diverted flights to other airports as a result of the weather and flooding in its terminals.
“We know flight disruptions can be frustrating and apologise to any travellers impacted,” the airport said on Twitter.
#DEVELOPING #NEWS | Auckland Airport has been forced to close due to torrential flooding which has resulted in a state of emergency being declared for the city. 📹@FizzyTBC
Read more at AviationSource!https://t.co/IA4HWtWnsU#aucklandflooding #AucklandAirport #AvGeek pic.twitter.com/z6ji0Nv1B0
— AviationSource (@AvSourceNews) January 27, 2023
The airport warned that no international flight will be able to land in Auckland until Jan. 29 at 4:30 AM.
“People are asked not to come to the International Terminal at this time for travel and please contact your airline for information about your flight,” said the airport in an online update.
There will be no arriving international flights until 4:30am, Sunday 29 January.
People are asked not to come to the International Terminal at this time for travel and please contact your airline for information about your flight.
— Auckland Airport (@AKL_Airport) January 27, 2023
Currently, domestic travel is expected to resume for departing flights on Jan. 28 at 5 PM although Auckland Airpot warned that the plan could be altered. The airport also told travelers that “due to earlier flooding in the baggage hall,” it is “currently unable to return checked luggage.”
“Your airline will make arrangements for its return at a later time,” tweeted Auckland Airport.
Road travel also became increasingly chaotic as “transport authorities closed parts of State Highway 1, the main highway that bisects Auckland,” on Jan. 27, per CTV News.
Additionally, because of the extreme weather, Auckland authorities canceled an Elton John concert just before the event began.
“Elton John’s concert in the city, which was expected to be attended by about 40,000 people, was cancelled at the last minute, after concert-goers had gathered in the stadium,” reports The Guardian. “The last-minute cancelation caused traffic chaos, with concert-goers struggling to get home.”
Conditions in the northern and northwest parts of the city are expected to worsen through Jan. 28.
“We need the rain to stop,” Brown said during a radio interview. “That’s the main issue.”
The state of emergency allows the city’s Civil Defence Emergency Management to “coordinate other emergency services, make sure temporary accommodation, food and water are available, ensure access to dangerous areas is properly controlled and provide regular public information meetings,” per NewsHub.
Auckland has a population of roughly 1.5 million people.