Lucky escape after van goes into stream

Two people have had a narrow escape after driving their van into a swollen stream in the Bay of Plenty.

The van was spotted driving into Waiopua Stream, south of Whakatane, about 10.50am today Fire Service shift manager Jaron Phillips said.

Initial reports were that the two occupants had disappeared into the water along with the vehicle.

The stream feeds off Waimana River, which burst its banks in heavy rain overnight.

The van was driving through flooding on State Highway 2 when it drove into the water.

Inspector Ben Offner said the two occupants of the van had managed to get out, wet and cold but unhurt.

One Waimana local, who did not wish to be identified, said the vehicle was submerged up to its windows.

The current was flowing fast and had turned the van about 90 degrees.

Meanwhile, a mother and her three young children are trapped in a house due to flooding just to the south.

Their house is surrounded by water from Waimana River.

They were safe so emergency services were waiting for the water level to drop before they tried to get to them, Mr Phillips said.

Waimana Gorge is blocked due to slips and flooding, as were parts of State Highway 2.


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