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Death toll from cyclone rises to 9 in New Zealand

The death toll from Cyclone Gabrielle has reached nine in New Zealand, officials said on Saturday. 

Roger Ball, Acting Director Emergency Management of the National Emergency Management Agency, told a media briefing that nine people had lost their lives and emergency services feared the death toll was expected to rise.

Deputy Police Commissioner Glenn Dunbier confirmed that the official death toll currently sit at nine, including seven people in the Eastern district and two people in Auckland. He said there was a small number of missing people whom police had heightened concerns.

Additional police staff from all around the country were dispatched to the affected area to assist local police, Xinhua news agency reported.

Communications in areas most affected by Cyclone Gabrielle are still disrupted and slowly resuming. The New Zealand Police are urging people who have been affected by the cyclone to register that they are safe online.

As of 2 p.m. local time on Saturday, there have been 5,608 reports of uncontactable people registered and 1,196 reports from people registering they are safe.

New Zealand declared a national state of emergency on Tuesday, the third time in the country’s history, as Cyclone Gabrielle lashed New Zealand’s North Island. 

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