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» »Unlabelled » NEW ZELAND TORNADO - Houses were moved off their foundations

Houses were moved off their foundations and residents feared for their lives as tornadoes ripped through New Plymouth early today.

The Fire Service has confirmed there were two tornadoes, and a possible third. They went through the city at about 4:20am.

One hit the city centre, causing substantial damage to businesses. The other hit a hotel and St Mary's Church Hall on Vivian St, a few blocks from the CBD, breaking roof tiles and ripping up a tree.

Canon pastor Bill Marsh said he was thankful the damage was all repairable.

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The Fire Service said there may have been another tornado in the nearby town of Bell Block, where there has been more damage to buildings.

Emergency services have been inspecting damage around the city, and say business owners in the affected area should also check their properties.

Power was out in the city around Lemon Street, Leach Street and parts of Coronation Ave. Linesmen have been working through the day to repair damaged power lines.

Fire Communications Shift Manager Linda Beets said there is a trail of destruction between State Highway 3 and Carrington Street.

Fire trucks were called in from Inglewood, Oakura and Waitara to inspect damage around the city, but the Fire Service told ONE News it was "on top of things".

There have been no reports of injuries, and no local state of emergency has been declared as a result of the tornadoes.

The tornadoes took a similar path to one three years ago, which caused even more serious damage.

Homeowners and businesses are bow assessing their losses, which could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

'Traumatic experience'

A number of houses in the path of the tornadoes were moved off their foundations.

Sonia Thomas told ONE News that "first of all it went really quiet".

"Then there was this big bang, and the roof started slamming up and down," she said.

Linesmen have been working through the day to repair damaged power lines.

Chenye Hughes, 17, was sleeping in a conservatory when the tornado hit, showering her with glass and debris.

She said she "curled up in a ball and hid myself under the blankets, screaming".

Her mother, Justine, said she ran to her daughter's aid and they managed to escape.

A number of houses in the path of the tornadoes were moved off their foundations.

Valerie Robertson lives on one of the worst hit streets, Ridge Lane, and said the experience was traumatic.

"I heard a tremendous noise and lots of breaking glass, and I bounded out of bed and found that my front windows had gone and my side of the house was quite damaged," said Robertson.

"I've got broken glass on both sides of the door and my roof's gone."

On the same street, ONE News spoke to a man called Craig who also lost his roof.

He said the tornado sounded like a freight train.


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