Live Cyclone Gabrielle updates: Death toll rises, 'grave concerns' for several missing

7:03 pm on 16 February 2023
Flood damage at Omaranui Road in Hawkes Bay

Flood damage at Omaranui Road in Hawkes Bay Photo: Jonathan Bixley

There were 3544 reports of people uncontactable by 2pm today, as police and search and rescue teams prioritise those unaccounted for or in areas isolated by flood waters.

Of the people reported via the Police 105 online reporting form as uncontactable, the vast majority are from Hawke's Bay and Tairāwhiti, police say.

Many of the reports would be duplicates or because people were unable to make contact.

Additional police staff are already on the ground in Eastern District, with more to come in the days ahead.

These officers will assist with recovery efforts and conduct highly visible reassurance patrols throughout affected areas, police say.

So far, 450 people had reported themselves safe, however, police expected that number to rise significantly.

Police asked people to not submit multiple reports if they were unable to reach a loved one.

By the end of Thursdsay, six people were confirmed dead following the storm.

At his media briefing this evening, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he expected the number of fatalities to rise.

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