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Ardern tours NZ flood devastation

Months worth of rain in just a few days has brought widespread flooding in New Zealand’s Canterbury region, closing the national highway and cutting off much of the South Island.

Ashburton Bridge, south of Christchurch, has been shut after the mayor said drivers felt the road move under their cars.

“There’s definitely a slump in there,” Neil Brown told news outlet Stuff.

“I visually can see a slump. It’s in major damage.”

Engineers expect the bridge, over the Ashburton River or Hakatere, to be out of action for days.

It is the only practical route between Christchurch and other South Island settlements such as Queenstown and Dunedin.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said 200 to 400 per cent of the May average rainfall had fallen in Canterbury in the past three days.

Lismore, near Ashburton, received the same amount of rain as it did the past six months.

“(The floods) have come on top of a prolonged period of low rainfall and near-drought conditions,” climate scientist James Renwick at Victoria University of Wellington said.

“This is unfortunately what we expect to see with climate change.”

Farmers and landowners have told Kiwi media outlets of their devastation.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern toured the region, travelling from Christchurch to Ashburton by helicopter, and broadcasted images of flooded fields on her Instagram account.

“Devastating to see what communities will be dealing with for sometime to come,” she wrote.

“We’ll have a chance to meet with some of the local leaders shortly to see how we can help support them.”

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