Slips cause evacuation, road blockage

TOM HUNT
Last updated 08:56 17/04/2014
Oriental Bay slip
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ

RUDE AWAKENING: An Oriental Bay apartment building was evacuated after this slip crashed into the building overnight.

Oriental Bay slip
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
FILLING IN THE GAPS: The slip between two buildings.
A collapsed bank in Oriental BAy, Wellington
COLLAPSE: A view of the bank.

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With a "sickening" crack, a large slip crashed from one of Wellington's most expensive properties into high-end apartments below.

The slip of about 10 metres fell from a property in McFarlane St in Mt Victoria to Oriental Bay late last night, causing evacuations on both streets.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean confirmed houses on McFarlane St were threatened as were apartments that had suffered "serious damage" on Oriental Pde.

Council workers were investigating the extent of the damage this morning.

It was too early to say what the cause was but there had been a lot of rain in the past 24 hours, Maclean said.

About 20 people had to evacuated last night.

Emma Gilkison and her partner Roy Costilla were at home at 21 McFarlane St watching television when, about 9.30pm, there was a "big rumble".

"It sounded like it could be thunder, then a sickening cracking sound," she said.

They went outside to see part of their fence had disappeared, as had about 1m off the front of their rented property.

"We could see a big chunk of the hill was no longer there." On closer inspection and despite the darkness, they found the slip was "pretty massive" and came within 2m of the front of the house.

They were evacuated about midnight.

Quotable Value figures show the property was sold in 2012 for $2.5 million. That year it was the third-most expensive house sold in Wellington.

Wellington Central senior fire officer James Gray said the bank behind the Oriental Pde buildings collapsed about 9.30pm yesterday, burying the back of a four-story apartment block.

"The original call was from McFarlane St above, where they heard the crash as the hill just gave way," he said.

A stormwater drain also broke in the slip sending a waterfall down the bank that was still flowing nearly two hours later.

The flow also appeared to have diverted into the building next door, filling a downstairs room within minutes.

"When we arrived the water was up to ceiling height," Gray said.

Firefighters had to bash a hole in the door to release the water, which flowed on through the garage into the street.

About five apartments were evacuated with most residents shuffling through the rain to a nearby hotel.

Shortly before 6am a slip also came down on Nottingham St in Karori.

Fire Service central communications shift manager Tim Rees said the slip was covering the road.

MetService forecaster Richard Finnie said there was a period of torrential rain in Wellington yesterday morning, followed by heavy rain through last night.

In Kelburn, 37 millimetres fell overnight and 68mm fell in the 24 hours to this morning.

Up to 22mm fell between 9am and 10am yesterday.

Rain was expected to be steady in Wellington today.

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- The Dominion Post

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