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Deadly storm brushes past northern New Zealand


03-16-2015 10:36 BJT

Cyclone Pam, the weather system that wreaked havoc in the South Pacific, has brushed past northern New Zealand overnight, sparing most of the Northland region and the city of Auckland from damaging winds.

Cyclone Pam struck the islands of Vanuatu -- almost 2,000 kilometres east of northern Australia -- late on Friday and into Saturday with winds of more than 300 kilometers per hour, leaving at least nine people dead.

Some 90 percent of the houses in the capital Port Vila were destroyed or damaged. It was downgraded to an ex-tropical cyclone this morning, but winds and rain around it remain severe.

Now the center of the storm is moving in on East Cape, the easternmost point of the main islands of New Zealand and the outlook for today is still looking potentially damaging.

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