Back here now, and the North Island’s been hit by at least three tornadoes today which have injured 5 people. The first hit New Plymouth about 1o’clock this afternoon and caused chaos in the city’s CBD as it pounded buildings.
It came from the sea through the murk of the outlines of a destructive tornado. Bits of flying roof can just be made out in this cell phone footage as the twister plowed into parts of New Plymouth just after 1, this afternoon. Its destructive power was concentrated on Placemakers, ripping off its roof and smashing into nearby stores. One woman suffered concussion as she was hit by debris.
NZ Tornadoes 04 July 2007
Scott Kearns: I looked up and the roof totally flew off. And then the moldings started coming down on top of me and I was just running for my life.
John Newton: The tornado came in from the sea here ripped the roof of the Placemakers store and continued a path of destruction up through New Plymouth to the race course. Eyewitnesses say, it was all over in seconds.
Nikki Castle: We saw the Placemakers’ roof disappear. It just took off. It just went… it was like it did a big somersault.
This store’s frontage was ripped off, its windows pulled completely away. So it was with the other shops in the area as the mini tornado made its way round the edge of the city center. The racecourse bore the full brunt of the wind’s fury. Windows shattered and posts were pulled out of the ground. Within hours, fire crew and salvage workers were clearing the rubble. But by late this afternoon, there were worries that more tornadoes might follow as thunderstorms continued to build off the coast. John Newton, One News.
Meantime, an electrical storm in Tauranga has lifted roofs and smashed windows. While, in East Auckland, a mini tornado ripped through the suburbs of Gulflands. Fire service was called to about thirty homes needing help after high winds tore tiles off roofs and blew away fences and hedges.