Elton John concert cancelled after severe rain and flooding in New Zealand
Torrential rain and wild weather in Auckland caused flooding and disruption throughout the city on Friday, forcing the cancellation of an Elton John concert just before it was due to start.
About 40,000 people were expected to attend the concert at Mt Smart Stadium. Thousands were already at the venue when organizers decided to cancel not long before the singer was due to take the stage at 730pm.
The concert was billed as a final farewell tour for John. Frontier Touring, one of the concert promoters, tweeted the concert had been cancelled due to unsafe weather conditions.
Many concertgoers who had braved the conditions were frustrated the decision hadn't been made hours earlier.
Weather agency MetService warned of flash flooding and hazardous driving conditions throughout the city. On Friday night, transport authorities closed parts of State Highway 1, the main highway that bisects Auckland.
Video posted online showed waist-deep water in some places, and authorities were asking residents in flood-prone areas to be prepared in case they needed to evacuate.
Lawmaker Ricardo Menéndez posted a video of water surging into residential houses. “We’ve just had to evacuate our home as the water was already rising rapidly and coming in aggressively,” he tweeted.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand said it had taken over 1,000 calls for help, but that many calls were from people who had flooded properties. The agency was urging callers to clear the lines for those in immediate danger.
The unseasonable weather also caused some flights to be delayed or canceled.
Auckland Airport said it had reduced its runway operations after an arriving aircraft had damaged runway lighting, while pictures showed the check-in hall under several inches of water.
“This is largely impacting international arrivals and departures and larger aircraft travelling domestically,” the airport wrote on Twitter.
“Our maintenance team is on site and is working hard to fix the damage.”
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown told Radio New Zealand “We need the rain to stop. That’s the main issue."