Deadly tornado rips through South Auckland

A man has been killed and two people are injured after a tornado swept through South Auckland this morning.

The storm lifted roofs, downed powerlines toppled trees and sent trampolines flying in the suburb of Papatoetoe about 8:30am.

A worker was killed when the tornado struck a freight container hub in Wiri Station Rd.

Two others were taken to Middlemore Hospital - one is in a moderate condition and the other has minor injuries, RNZ reported this afternoon.

Several containers were toppled by the strong wind.

Ports of Auckland told RNZ it operates the site with several other businesses, but none of the injured people worked for the company.

It said it is shocked by the freak event and its thoughts are with the people affected.

WorkSafe is investigating the death.

Meanwhile, a Civil Defence welfare centre has been opened in South Auckland, to help people affected by this morning's tornado. It has been set up in Newbury St, Otara.

More than 20 fire crews from across Auckland are helping with the cleanup and a Fire and Emergency command unit is at the scene.

RNZ reporter Katie Doyle, who was at a fire service cordon at Freyburg Ave in Papatoetoe, described the scene as carnage,  saying there had been a lot of damage.

She said the street was strewn with branches and one tree had been completely uprooted. There were pieces of corrugated iron ripped away, power lines down and roof tiles ripped off by the tornado.

MetService meteorologist Andrew James said there had been 1500 lightening strikes in six hours, with just one hitting on land in Auckland.

"The atmosphere is what we call unstable, so conducive to thunderstorms and there are the ingredients there for the possibility of a tornado."

James said the thunderstorm would have been quick and fast moving and the bad weather has moved away from Auckland this afternoon.

A damaged roof in Papatoetoe. Photo / Instagram: Tony Johnston
A damaged roof in Papatoetoe. Photo / Instagram: Tony Johnston
Papatoetoe Heather Haylock told The New Zealand Herald she heard a loud noise, which she initially thought was a group of motorcyclists roaring down the street.

"Then the lights started to flicker, then there was this big wind gust."

"Trees were snapped off at the roots, there's a new house being built over the road and it's all over on one side. Cars have been crushed by powerpoles. It's kinda crazy really."

Haylock said a mother and her baby in the house next door were lucky to escape unharmed after a piece of wood smashed through a large window and into the bedroom where they were sleeping.

"She was obviously really upset. The glass missed the baby - there's a whole series of miracles down the street."

Haylock told how she woke her teenage children and kept everyone safe together.

"My teenagers were asleep and they got woken up… Once we got the family all together and made sure the kids were safe we went out and opened the front door and there was this amazing damage."

Puhinui Rd in Papatoetoe - the house where a mother and baby were sleeping. Photo: Heather Haylock
Puhinui Rd in Papatoetoe - the house where a mother and baby were sleeping. Photo: Heather Haylock
Haylock said garage doors were ripped off, as were titles from many nearby homes and parts of a distinctive tree from about 200m down the road were now in her backyard.

"My daughter said there was wood flying past the window and twirling around in the sky. It was just like you see in the movies. I half expected a cow to come flying past."

Another resident said there was nothing left of his neighbour's roof and trees were down.

"It's really bad I've never seen something like that.

"I can see my neighbour's roof totally has gone there's just nothing left of the roof even half of my other neighbour's roof has gone."

He said there was shattered glass and he could see bad damage down the whole street.

The front yard of a Papatoetoe home. Photo / Facebook
The front yard of a Papatoetoe home. Photo / Facebook
Resident Prakash Patel was sheltering inside the Shree Swaminarayan Temple in when the tornado came through about 8.15am.

He said there were about four trees ripped down outside on Wentworth Ave and 15 or so fences destroyed.

"Inside the temple there is a door where the glass was damaged," Patel said.

"The glass was completely cracked and fell down. It was kind of dangerous. It [the tornado] was in Wilmay Ave and Wentworth Ave outside the houses there are fences damaged.

"Some of the houses - the roofs are out and many many houses are damaged completely. A lot of damage."

- NZ Herald and RNZ 

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