19 Jun 2011

Teenager killed after Ohope house hit by landslide

9:00 am on 19 June 2011

A teenager has been killed after a house in Bay of Plenty was hit by a landslide shortly before midday on Saturday.

Police have confirmed that the body of a 17-year-old male has been removed from the Ohope property.

Police say wreckage from the landslide on West End Road covers nearly a quarter of an acre.

An elderly man managed to get out of the house.

Police say they will not name the teenager until Sunday.

Area prone to slips

Whakatane District Council's Civil Defence Controller, Diane Turner, says West End Road is particularly prone to slips.

She says major work done on stormwater and sewerage reticulation following flooding in 2004 has reduced the likelihood of landslips on West End Road - but as much rain has fallen in the past five months as they'd normally get in a year.

A number of houses in the area have been evacuated.

A motel manager on West End Road says he knows of about five large landslides along the road, brought down by torrential rain earlier on Saturday.

Christian Parker says he has never seen such a heavy downpour in eight years of living in Ohope.

He says an unoccupied beach house two doors away from him was badly hit by one of the slips.

Motorists are being urged to drive carefully, and residents to limit flushing their toilets.

More rain predicted overnight

MetService says the worst of the rain is over for the Whakatane district - but there will be some heavy rain overnight.

A forecaster, Ian Miller, says the highest rainfall on Saturday was 90 millimetres - inland from Whakatane - over a period of about 12 hours.

He says at its heaviest, the rain fell at about 37mm per hour.

Mr Miller says there will be showers through much of Monday, but clearing on Tuesday.

Road closures

Heavy flooding and slips forced the closure of 12 roads in and around Whakatane and Ohope on Saturday - however, all but one have now reopened.

The Whakatane District Council says Herepuru Road - which is a steep rural road prone to damage in heavy rain - remains closed due to slips.

They say it will be Monday before engineers are able to assess it.