Woman dies in house collapse

By Kieran Campbell

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Rescue crews believe they heard cries for help from a woman trapped in her home after it was destroyed by a landslip at Kaiteriteri in the Tasman region this afternoon.

The 63-year-old woman was found partially submerged in mud in the wreckage of the house on Kaiteriteri-Sandy Bay Rd but she could not be revived.

Emergency services were alerted about 1.15pm after the 200m-long landslide came down behind the property and hit the back of the house.

One wall and the roof was all that remained of the house and neighbours were trying to find the woman, who was the sole occupant of the house.

Motueka Fire Station chief fire officer Mike Riddell said the house, which had been swept off its foundations, was "completely flattened and filled with mud''.

"I believe [the first emergency services personnel at the scene] were standing on the house and they were actually trying to yell out to the lady and trying to ascertain if she was there or not. We weren't 100 per cent sure if she was there, there was just the car parked up the drive,'' Mr Riddell said.

"They believe they may have heard someone yelling but then it stopped.

"They did find her reasonably quickly, I believe they did whatever they could do to revive. I don't believe they had much success.''

Mr Riddell, who arrived at the scene with another fire service crew a short time later, said emergency services were hindered by other slips that had blocked roads around the Kaiteriteri area.

He said paramedics eventually had to walk at least 500m to reach the demolished home shortly after 1.15pm.

The slip that destroyed the house was not large but enough to push the home off its foundations, Mr Riddell said.

"It was directly behind the house [and] it's just taken it off its foundations and rolled it down a bank.

"It's been enough to demolish the house and push it over the edge.''

The woman's next of kin were yet to be informed and her name was expected to be released tomorrow.

Mr Riddell said the region had been saturated by upwards of 200mm of rain since yesterday and more was expected overnight.

He said a couple of other houses within about 300m of the destroyed home had since been evacuated as a precaution.

SEVERE WEATHER STRIKES

Intense rain and severe gale-force winds are expected in Auckland and other parts of the country this afternoon as storms sweep in from the Tasman Sea.

Are you affected by the severe weather? Send us your news videos here.

MetService has put a severe weather watch in place for Auckland, Waikato, Northland, Taranaki, Marlborough and Canterbury where there may be periods of "intense rain" and "severe gales".

"People planning outdoor activities in all these areas are advised to stay up to date with the latest forecasts, watches and warnings," MetService said.

WeatherWatch has said the widespread rain across Auckland city is about to intensify as the main part of the band, with sub-tropical elements, moves down slowly from the north.

Rain rates may be high enough to overwhelm some drains and gutters and with autumn leaves still falling from trees surface flooding and areas of minor flooding are more likely.

A severe weather warning has been issued for the Bay of Plenty, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago and Westland regions, where residents are being warned to prepare for the chance of flooding.

A national park in the Nelson region has already received about 250mm of rain today, MetService duty forecaster Elke Louw said.

"We haven't had any reports [of flooding] yet," Ms Louw said.

"There are places where it has been raining quite heavily [today].

"The warnings will still be in place until tomorrow.

"Severe gales are expected in Northland and Auckland for this afternoon and this evening."

The heaviest downpours are expected to be between 3pm and 6pm but they may linger further into the evening.

Between 4 and 8cm of snow is expected to fall on Lindis Pass and Arthurs Pass today before rain returns overnight, MetService said.

- APNZ

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