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Typhoon Hits New Zealand

March 8, 1988

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) _ Typhoon Bola pounded the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island today, killing at least one person and forcing the evacuation of 2,500 people.

The high winds also fanned a bush fire on South Island that consumed nearly 1,000 acres before it was brought under control.

Four towns and portions of Gisborne were evacuated during widespread flooding, civil defense spokesman Doug Bent said. Authorities declared a state of emergency.

Residents were ordered out of low-lying areas as a precaution against rising rivers. At least four people were lost in the floodwaters and one body was recovered, officials said.

Insurance companies estimated damage at hundreds of millions of dollars. The most serious damage was on the east coast of North Island, where homes were heavily damaged as far north as Auckland.

In New Plymouth on the west side of the island, winds damaged more than 300 homes and several high-rise buildings. Bola was expected to pass over the north island later Tuesday.

Winds of up to 93 mph began pounding the region late Sunday as Bola moved southwest across the Pacific Ocean after leaving more than 100 people homeless on the small island nation of Vanuatu.

A state of emergency was declared around Gisborne and in Wairoa after that town’s main bridge collapsed.

Update hourly