WELLINGTON - Three people were killed and several injured after an unusual storm, described by witnesses as a "mini tornado", hit New Zealand's largest city of Auckland on Thursday, toppling trees and ripping debris from a construction site.
The tornado, driven by a powerful storm cell, tore concrete slabs from a building site and dropped them onto a truck, killing two people inside, a fire services spokesman said.
Rescue teams were searching a school site for workers thought to be trapped beneath fallen concrete blocks in the west Auckland suburb of Hobsonville, The New Zealand Herald newspaper reported.
Details on the third death were not immediately available. At least seven people injured in the storm were sent to hospital.
"I saw it coming across the river, the air went very electric and the sky went black. And then the wind started to whistle. This was like a juggernaut roaring through here," witness Suzanne McFadden told New Zealand's Newstalk ZB radio.