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Torrential rains cause major disruption in Wellington

WELLINGTON, May 14 — The New Zealand capital was almost cut off Thursday as torrential rains sweeping the country washed out road and rail links in the city.

Civil Defense officials urged stranded commuters to talk to workmates or friends and family about finding accommodation in Wellington Thursday night as roads turned into rivers with water waist deep.

With multiple roads out of Wellington closed by slips and flooding and the rail network halted for the day, commuters were urged to "stay where they are, if possible."

Wellington regional Civil Defense official Bruce Pepperell said in a statement that more rain was expected and all endeavors should be made to keep off the roads.

People living near rivers were advised to prepare to evacuate quickly.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) said crews were working to open the roads as soon as possible, but it was not known when they would reopen.

"This has been an extraordinary period of rain and it has caused major disruption. Our crews are working nonstop to clear flooding and debris and get people moving," NZTA acting Wellington highways manager Neil Walker said in a statement.

At least 18 homes were evacuated in the coastal Kapiti district, just north of Wellington, as rivers and streams rose.

The Waikanae River had exceeded its 10-year peak level and there were concerns it would rise higher with heavy rain forecast later Thursday coinciding with the high tide, said a statement from Kapiti District Council.

The government's MetService weather agency said heavy rains were expected to continue over the country into Friday before clearing at the weekend. (PNA/Xinhua)

FPV/RSM

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