Thousands evacuated as floods worsen in Australia
Canberra – Some 18 000 people have been evacuated from severe floods across New South Wales (NSW) in Australia, with more heavy rainfall predicted.
The state’s entire coast is now under a severe weather warning.
Days of torrential downpours have caused rivers and dams to overflow around Sydney – the state capital – and in south-east Queensland.
The military is being deployed to help with search and rescue, in what has been called a “one-in-50-years event”.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has forecast “increased rainfall, strong winds, damaging surf and abnormally high tides” in New South Wales on Tuesday.
It also said that some ten million people across every state and territory except Western Australia were now under a weather warning.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said no deaths had been reported by late Monday – describing it as “a miracle given what we have been through”.
But there has been widespread damage in the affected areas, which are home to about a third of Australia’s 25 million people.
Berejiklian said many of the communities “being battered by the floods” had been affected by bushfires and drought the previous summer.
“I don’t know any time in state history where we have had these extreme weather conditions in such quick succession in the middle of a pandemic,” she said.
Prime Minsister Scott Morrison has offered funds for those forced to evacuate. He told parliament there was “serious risk still ahead”.
What’s the latest on the ground?
Swollen rivers cut off roads and bridges, and almost 200 schools in NSW will remain shut on Tuesday.
People in more than 15 mostly low-lying areas have been ordered to evacuate and a similar number have been given evacuation warnings.
An order requires people to seek shelter with family or friends well away from flood impacted areas, or in a special centre. The warning tells people to prepare for an evacuation order.
Areas north and west of Sydney, the NSW Central Coast and the Hawkesbury valley have been of particular concern.
There have been some 15 000 evacuations from the Mid-North Coast and a further 3 000 in Sydney, officials said. (BBC)