Deadly floods hit Australia's north-east

Authorities in the eastern state of Queensland issued 11 emergency alerts in 24 hours as rising waters inundated homes and roads, and swept away cars. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
A car is towed from a flooded road in Oxley, Queensland, on Feb 26, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
A road is closed due to flooding in Queensland on Feb 26, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP, REUTERS) -  A severe storm system pummelled Australia’s north-eastern city of Brisbane on Sunday (Feb 27), causing evacuations, power outages and school closures as the death toll climbed to seven from accompanying flash floods.

Huge downpours unleashed decades-high floods and the rising waters inundated homes and roads, and swept away cars.

More than 1,400 homes in the capital of Queensland state were at risk of flooding while more than 28,000 homes were without power statewide, as pristine beaches on the Gold and Sunshine coasts, which are key tourist attractions, all closed.

“We never expected this rain,” state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told a briefing.

“This rain bomb is just really, you know, it’s unrelenting... It’s just coming down in buckets.”

More than 100 schools across the southeast of a state famed for abundant sunshine will be closed on Monday. State rescue services said they received 100 requests an hour for help in recent days.

Ms Palaszczuk had earlier compared the weather to a cyclone event.

“Can I say to everyone from the outset today, if you don’t have to be on the roads, please do not be on the roads,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

 “We have a lot of water rising right across Brisbane and the southeast at the moment.”

Six people have died in the Queensland flooding so far, including the late Saturday death of a 34-year-old man who tried to swim to safety when his car became submerged in floodwaters.

About 700 people were asked to evacuate from the city of Gympie on Saturday after the Mary River system surged beyond 22.06m  for the town’s worst flood since the 1880s.

Residents look at rising floodwaters of the Bremer river in West Ipswich, Queenslands, on Feb 26, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

A man died in floodwaters in northern New South Wales when his car was carried away, as the torrential rains move south, posing risks for Australia’s most populous state.

Meteorologists said the deluge and thunderstorms would continue through Monday, before starting to ease off in Queensland, but moving south to New South Wales, where some communities at risk in its north-east have been told to evacuate.

The risk of riverine and flash flooding was “very real over coming days,” said New South Wales emergency services minister Steph Cooke.

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