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Hundreds evacuated from homes in New Zealand to escape flooding

Authorities have declared a state of emergency in the Southland region.

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Buildings are submerged in floodwaters in Gore, New Zealand (Newshub via AP)

Buildings are submerged in floodwaters in Gore, New Zealand (Newshub via AP)

Buildings are submerged in floodwaters in Gore, New Zealand (Newshub via AP)

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes and farms to escape flooding in southern New Zealand.

Authorities told many residents in the towns of Gore, Mataura and Wyndham that they should leave immediately as rivers continued to rise following heavy rainfall.

Several hundred tourists were being evacuated from Milford Sound after getting stuck there earlier this week when flooding and mudslides cut off car access. Many of the tourists were evacuated by helicopter.

The Grenfell family were rescued after spending a night stuck in a hut along a popular hiking track. They told New Zealand broadcaster Newshub that they set up tables to climb above the water and onto the top bunks.

New Zealand floods
Sandbags are piled up near a flooded road in Gore, New Zealand (TVNZ via AP)

“We were worried that the whole hut would actually start moving because it was creaking and the water was pushing against the walls of the hut,” said Tui Grenfell. “So we did actually bash holes in the walls of the hut to allow the flow through the hut late last night.”

A helicopter finally arrived in the morning to rescue them.

Authorities have declared a state of emergency in the Southland region.

Further rainfall is forecast over the coming days, but not the heavy rain that has caused the flooding.

PA