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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
NZ town evacuated after flooding
An aerial view of the coastal town of Matata, population 650, shows the widespread devastation caused by floods and landslides in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand's North Island, 20 May 2005.
The floods are thought to be the worst in the area in 100 years
Hundreds of New Zealanders are in emergency accommodation following flash flooding in a coastal community on North Island.

More than half of the inhabitants of Matata were evacuated after flood waters raged through the town on Wednesday.

There were no casualties but millions of dollars' worth of damage was caused.

Local officials say it is probably the worst deluge the area has suffered in a century.

Twenty houses in Matata were "completely destroyed" and 70 others were damaged, according to local civil defence controller Dave Christison.

The flood reportedly carried some houses up to 300 metres (1,000 feet) from their foundations.

"One house went right past the back of our place... and ended up on the railway line," Matata resident Len Fowld told national radio.

Some inhabitants of the nearby towns of Whakatane and Tauranga have also been evacuated. At least eight houses were destroyed in Tauranga.

The same region suffered severe flooding last year.

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