SYDNEY • Three people were feared dead after being trapped in a car that disappeared in a flooded river in northern New South Wales yesterday.
A 10-year-old girl escaped from the car after it veered off the road and into the flood waters, and she ran to a nearby house in the village of Tumbulgum for help.
A search by local residents using a fishing boat with sonar equipment located the submerged car in the Tweed River about 40m away from where it entered the water, about two hours later, said ABC News.
The girl's mother and two siblings, aged about six and 12, were in the car, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Mr Matt Grinham was one of those who jumped into the murky water, following bubbles made by the submerged car.
"Even though we were diving down to the bubbles we couldn't get deep enough to touch the car," he told ABC News.
Further south, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday surveyed more damage left in the wake of Cyclone Debbie.
Despite being around 1,500km away from the eye of the cyclone which struck Queensland state last week, the township of Lismore on the northern coast of New South Wales has been inundated with rain and floods brought by the devastating storm.
Residents were returning to a deluge of rubbish and mud after fleeing their homes as near-record floods swept through. Mayor Isaac Smith told ABC News about 3,000 homes and businesses have been damaged.
State Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who travelled with the Prime Minister, said the damage bill would "go into the billions".
Mr Turnbull said the government would provide "enormous support" to communities in both states affected by the cyclone.
"This is a strong city, it has seen floods before and it has recovered," Mr Turnbull said in Lismore.
Three men were still missing yesterday in Queensland following the cyclone's aftermath. One of them was a man in his 60s who went missing while bushwalking at Lamington National Park, said Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper.
The city of Rockhampton has begun a massive cleanup after the cyclone - while preparing for more devastation. The city's Fitzroy River reached a peak of 9m yesterday, with more rain expected tomorrow. The city's airport has been closed and it is feared that up to 3,000 homes could be lost.
Earlier yesterday, a mother and two children were rescued from the roof of their house as it was swept away by flood waters near the Albert River on Queensland's Gold Coast. The dramatic scene saw the house go underwater just minutes after the rescue.