Man killed by tornado named

By Hayden Donnell, Newstalk ZB, NZPA, NZ Herald staff

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Huge sections of the PlaceMakers roof were torn off and scattered by the tornado which reached speeds of 200km/h. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Huge sections of the PlaceMakers roof were torn off and scattered by the tornado which reached speeds of 200km/h. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Police have released the name of a man who died after he was hurled in the air by the devastating tornado that struck the North Shore of Auckland yesterday afternoon.

Fletcher Construction worker Benedict Dacayan, 37, was at the old Placemakers building in Albany when the tornado hit.

Mr Dacayan had a wife and a child.

Witnesses last night said Mr Dacayan was picked up by the 200km/hr winds and slammed into a concrete carpark.

Two of his colleagues were also seriously injured.

A student nurse last night described how she tried desperately to save his life.

Sophie Bond stood over the man, believed to be in his 30s, whose head was split open.

"I tried to give him mouth-to-mouth but his lungs were too filled with blood and there was nothing I could do," Miss Bond said.

"Debris, metal and cars were flying through the air - they were just picked up and tossed around like it was nothing and thrown back down."

Mr Dacayan's death has been referred to the coroner.

He is the only person who died in the tornado, though fourteen people, including several children, were injured.

Philip King, general manager investor relations for Fletcher Building, said workers were shocked at the death.

"It was a very random act of mother nature. It was shocking."

Mr Dacayan and other workers were on the old Placemakers site at the Albany Megacentre when the tornado stuck.

Placemakers had moved out of the building several weeks ago and moved up the road to another site.

The building was being renovated and Fletcher Building had two site offices in the carpark. Both were badly damaged, Mr King said.

"The team was in one of the site offices and it was comprehensively lifted up and destroyed by the tornado. It was a portacabin. There were two of them. One was picked up and destroyed."

Mr King said his company had procedures, including a welfare fund, to help the dead man's family.

Meanwhile, police say that 50 per cent of Westfield Mall in Albany is
now open for regular retail trading.

Engineers have completed safety and structural checks of the site and most of the northern sector of the mall reopened around noon.

Some stores on the upper level including the foodcourt and New World Supermarket have reopened.

Event Cinemas and the stores around Farmers on the upper and lower levels are still closed.

Members of the public are urged not to enter the areas that remain closed and sealed. There are signs in place at the southern end of the Albany Mega Centre which will remain inaccessible.

Ninety per cent of the Albany Mega Centre is reported to be operating and functioning normally.

Police said today all the roads in the area were open but there was no access to the Megacentre and the Westfield mall car parks a short distance away.

Power had been restored and workers were out in force at first light cleaning up and carrying out repairs.

Police asked the owners of 55 cars in the mall car parks to contact North Shore Policing Centre.

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- NZ Herald

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