5 Apr 2017

Auckland cliff collapse: Mud 'came down like a freight train'

10:36 am on 5 April 2017

About 20 residents evacuated their homes after a 10m wide mudslide collapsed onto an east Auckland apartment complex, smashing windows and bursting through doors.

The back of a Kohimarama property where a cliff collapsed in last night's torrential rain.

The back of the San Remo apartments, Kohimarama, Auckland Photo: Auckland CDEM

The cliff collapsed into the San Remo apartment complex, in the coastal residential area of Kohimarama, just before 8pm on Tuesday.

Police confirmed everyone was accounted for, after initial reports two people were missing.

An Urban Search and Rescue team was alerted, several nearby dwellings were evacuated and the McKillop rest home was being protected, the Fire Service said.

A geotech engineer was inspecting the Kohimarama site because of fears there might be more slips in the area.

Fifteen people evacuated the San Remo apartments and another six people evacuated the neighbouring properties.

Emergency services on the scene after the slip hit the San Remo apartments at 11 Kohimarama Road, Auckland.

Emergency services at the scene on Kohimarama Road Photo: RNZ / Mihingarangi Forbes

Five homes on Auckland's Whangaparāoa Peninsula were also evacuated due to a large landslip.

The Fire Service said three homes on Matakatia Parade and another two on Whangaparoa Road were evacuated as a safety precaution.

It said the slip was 50m long and 20m wide.

Auckland Civil Defence said heavy rainfall had caused localised flooding and small slips in other parts of the city.

'I got knocked over by a wall of mud'

Resident Craig Jones said the landslide came down like a freight train as it smashed through his front door.

"I got knocked over by a wall of mud and branches and things that'd just come down the bank and come straight through the front door."

He was concerned about another resident thought to be missing and started frantically digging in the mud, but the person turned up safely.

The wall of mud was "a couple of metres high" and Mr Jones said he was thankful to have got out alive.

11 Kohimarama Rd, Auckland

The landslide hit the San Remo apartments at 11 Kohimarama Road Photo: Google Street View

Another resident, Andrew Dyer, told the New Zealand Herald he and his partner were making supper "when all of a sudden there was the most almighty crash".

"The front door burst open - it was forced open by a mud slide from a cliff behind the apartments."

Two neighbouring apartments were in the same condition, with windows smashed by the mud coming down the cliff, he said.

Emergency services had asked residents to stay clear until they could be sure the cliff was stable.

Authorities gave varying accounts of how many people were unaccounted for during the night, but police later confirmed no-one was missing.

Cracks on the hillside

Firefighters at the scene reported that large cracks were appearing on the hillside above other properties.

People were asked to avoid the area. A cordon was set up about 500m from the building.

A neighbour, who lives in a building next door to San Remo, said she came home to people evacuating.

It was "pouring with rain" and mud and water was coming down the drive, she said.

Rain hits Auckland - Cyclone Debbie remnants

Rain in Auckland's CBD on Tuesday night: The east of the city has been worst hit. Photo: RNZ / Leilani Momoisea

The Fire Service dealt with multiple flooding incidents in the city on Tuesday.

It said the eastern suburbs, including St Heliers, Beachlands, Remuera, Otara, Howick and Waiheke Island were the worst hit by heavy rain.

The council's head of emergency management, Aaron Davis, said it was important people kept themselves safe.

He urged people to stay indoors overnight as the rain was expected to worsen.

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