Damaging tornado rips through Christchurch, injuring two people, New Zealand

Damaging tornado rips through Christchurch, injuring two people, New Zealand

A tornado hit Christchurch in New Zealand on November 18, 2019, leaving a trail of damage from central suburbs to coastal areas, according to the nation's Fire and Emergency. The twister injured two people, scattered debris through the air, and disrupted power lines.

There was a sudden change in the weather in the central city around 02:30 UTC, with massive hailstones plummeting in the city along with thunder and strong winds. As the temperature got colder, the tornado began striking portions of the city. Shortly after, MetService confirmed the twister's formation.

Fire and Emergency service said the tornado left a trail of damage from central suburbs to the city's coastal areas. A roof collapsed at a SaveMart in Sydenham, injuring two people. St John said the two people have been taken to Christchurch Hospital with moderate injuries.

As of 03:30 UTC, around 1 128 customers were without power, according to Orion spokeswoman Linda McGregor. The affected areas were Brooklands, Spencerville, Broadfield, Norwood, Rolleston, Springston, Burnham, Ellesmere, Irwell, and Lincoln.

Fire and Emergency assistant area commander Mike Bowden reported that many residential and commercial establishments have lost roofing. "There's been a swathe of damage through Christchurch for this very short and sharp burst of weather that we've had, so it comes really from this side of town right through to New Brighton, we understand there are properties that have lost roving and there's been some other damage around the city as well."

The storm burst only lasted only a short period of time, Bowden said.

Debris from torn roofings was seen all over Wordsworth St in Sydenham. Bowden warned people to avoid picking up any broken parts.

An eyewitness detailed her experience when she saw the tornado. "We saw these bits of debris sitting in the sky and swirling around. And from where we could see, it looked like it was paper, but as it got closer we realized it was bits of gib board, which I've now realized are probably off the SaveMart on Battersea St."

Another local was driving along Horny when black clouds blocked the Port Hills. "And as we were driving along it actually felt like an eclipse, this blackness came over us," she said.

Moreover, part of the roof of a vehicle dealership on Wordsworth St was ripped off, sending debris down the road. It has then been closed for cleanup.

A spokesperson from Fire and Emergency said clear skies had returned to Christchurch briefly after the thunderstorm.

The Christchurch City Council said it had contractors all set to check any potential damage from the tornado. Authorities have warned motorists to be extra careful due to potential road hazards following the severe weather.

Featured image credit: Nick Muk/YouTube

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