Ex-Cyclone Gita: Christchurch declares state of emergency

BBC News
Getty Images The storm which caused devastation in Tonga (pictured) last week is now on its way towards New Zealand

Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island has declared a state of emergency as former cyclone Gita approaches the country.

Dozens of schools have been shut and roads closed as the South Island braces itself for the storm, which is due to make landfall on Tuesday.

New Zealand's national airline has cancelled all flights in and out of the capital, Wellington, on North Island.

Residents were told to expect floods and winds of up to 150km/h (90mph).

"The full impact of the storm will be felt overnight and tomorrow morning," said Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

She urged residents in low-lying areas to evacuate, saying: "We are expecting homes to be flooded."

#Gita now starting to lose the characteristics of a tropical cyclone, but still expected to bring severe weather to parts of New Zealand tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/duT2JO1DmJ

End of Twitter post by @metofficestorms

The ex-cyclone, which has since been downgraded to a storm, last week left a trail of destruction in the Pacific island nations of Tonga and Fiji.

Tonga in particular is reeling from the storm which hit the overnight, injuring people and destroying buildings including the parliament.