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Auckland tornado: Three killed after rare and deadly tornado rips through New Zealand
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- Destructive twister leaves 250 people homeless in western Auckland
- One hit by uprooted tree, two others believed to have been crushed by slab of concrete
- Deadliest tornado to hit the country in 60 years
By Steve Robson
PUBLISHED: 06:23 EST, 6 December 2012 | UPDATED: 07:16 EST, 6 December 2012
A fierce tornado swept through New Zealand's largest city today killing three people and forcing 250 more to evacuate damaged and powerless homes.
The storm hit Hobsonville and Whenuapai, western suburbs of Auckland, at around midday leaving uprooted trees, damaged buildings and flooding that closed roads.
Three people died and further seven were admitted to hospital suffering a range of injuries in the deadliest tornado to hit New Zealand in more than 60 years.
Deadly: Residents in Auckland, New Zealand, comfort each other following the deadly tornado which swept through the city today
Powerful: The tornado left trees uprooted, buildings damaged and caused widespread flooding in the western suburbs of Auckland
Although the country averages around seven tornados each year, most are small, mild and do little damage.
New Zealand's temperate climate means it is not prone to the large, destructive tornados that plague places like the American Midwest.
Auckland Council spokesman Glyn Walters said the storm had made about 150 homes uninhabitable.
Some had roofs torn off or were severely damaged while others had more minor damage or had lost power.
Around 250 residents were taken to an air force base at Whenuapai, where council staff and welfare workers were helping them.
Rescue operation: Emergency service workers survey the site in the suburb of Hobsonville after a tornado ripped through the suburb
Clean-up: Winds of up to 70mph swept through Hobsonville, Auckland, as well as the tornado which kiled three people
The worst weather appeared to have passed by mid-afternoon. Mr Walters said. 'It's clearing up slightly but people need to be careful out there.'
Auckland Fire Service area commander Larry Cocker confirmed three people had died in the storm.
Mr Walters said one person was killed when hit by a tree and that some others who were killed or injured were workers building a school.
Two of those who died were in an accident involving a slab of concrete.
Meteorologist Richard Turner said New Zealand is not prone to the intense surface heating that helps create the huge and violent tornados seen in the central United States.
Devastation: Resident Cale Wood inspects his shed where debris was tossed following the tornado
Deadly: Rescue workers gather on a road amongst debris in Hobsonville, Auckland following the tornado that killed three people
But he warned even relatively small tornados like today's can cause damage and death.
Tornados in New Zealand are typically about 100ft wide and last for only a few minutes.
Daniel Corbett, a meteorologist with government forecaster MetService, said there had been some very warm, humid air 'like soup' sitting over Auckland for several days before thunderstorms hit, creating the conditions for today's tornado.
He said he expected the weather system would move away from the country tonight.
Tragedy: Rescue workers inspect the scene where at least two men are believed to be dead inside a truck at a building site in the suburb of Hobsonville after the tornado hit today
Homeless: Two women and their children leave an area devastated by the tornado which has left 250 people with damaged and powerless homes
The tornado equalled the deadliest recorded in New Zealand's history.
In 1948, three people were killed when a tornado hit a suburb in the city of Hamilton.