Winds close Wellington airport after people blown over (Lead)

June 29th, 2008 - 3:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Wellington, June 29 (DPA) A storm with gale force winds and Antarctic temperatures caused the cancellation of at least 25 flights in and out of Wellington International Airport Sunday because officials said it was not safe for passengers or air crew to walk onto the tarmac. Some people boarding small planes were blown over before the flights to and from provincial towns were grounded soon after 7 a.m. affecting more than 900 passengers, news reports said.

Bigger planes on main trunk routes were not affected because they use air bridges.

As wind hit 152 km an hour on the 445-metre suburban Mount Kaukau, car ferries which cross between Wellington at the foot of the North Island and the South island, were also cancelled because of 7-metre-high waves in Cook Strait.

Heavy snowfalls closed the main highway linking Wellington with the biggest city, Auckland, 660 km to the north.

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