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Kayakers safe after leaving swollen river

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/11/2016

A group of kayakers thought missing on the swollen Clarence River have been found safe.

The group have reported their whereabouts after having evacuated from the river, where a slip dam breach released a wall of water.

Helicopters began searching for the group after their gear was found on the river bank late on Monday afternoon.

Other groups are understood to be in the area, a well-known whitewater rafting location, but Marlborough Borough Council says it is understood they are well above the danger area.

Earlier on Monday, contact was made by satellite phone with 16 rafters who were on the flooded river and their earlier location was pinpointed by police.

The river had been blocked by a landslide near Dart's Stream after the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that struck just after midnight.

The water had been banking up behind the slip, about 10 to 12km up from the mouth, and broke through about 4.20pm.

There are about eight to 10 houses around the river mouth and a few scattered upstream and residents were urged to move to higher ground immediately.

The water was expected to take three to five hours to travel the 50km to the coast.

People were advised to keep clear of the Clarence River bed and adjacent flood plain areas.

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