The National Weather Agency has issued severe weather warnings in every state or mainland but one, affecting an estimated 10 million people in the country of 25 million people, in an area the size of Alaska.
“The rains and floods situation remains dynamic and extremely complex,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters.
No deaths have been reported, but thousands of people have been rescued by emergency services in recent days. Around 18,000 people have been evacuated and authorities expect around 15,000 more to join them.
Images shared on social media showed entire bridges washed away, stranded animals and submerged homes in New South Wales, the most populous and affected state.
One video showed a container truck hitting a bridge, causing structural damage, while another showed a car being swept from a road by raging floodwaters in neighboring Queensland.
In New South Wales, a fourth consecutive day of heavy rain is expected to combine with a coastal trough over the next 24 hours, increasing the downpour.
“The weather conditions have worsened, and these weather conditions are likely to worsen during the day, so many communities will experience increasingly heavy rainfall,” said the Premier of New Wales from the South, Gladys Berejiklian.
The owner of an underwater restaurant on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, 62 kilometers north of Sydney, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp he saved the baby of a neighbor in need of care medical by boat.
“My brother rang the bell and said ‘please come over here, we have to get this baby out.’ We took them across the river and to a car, ”said restaurant owner Darren Osmotherly.
The Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s main water supply, began to overflow on Saturday and is expected to continue to do so for another week. A year earlier, amid drought and bushfires, the same dam fell below half of its water catchment, triggering severe water restrictions.
Although the weather system is likely to start improving from Wednesday evening, officials have warned that affected residents may not be able to return home immediately as the relentless rains dump more water into the watersheds. .
Deliveries of coal to the port of Newcastle, north of Sydney – the world’s largest coal export port – were halted earlier due to flooding which shut down rail lines.
The country’s largest independent coal miner, Whitehaven Coal Ltd, said on Tuesday it had been forced to stop loading ships in the port due to structural flaws, as weather-related port restrictions slowed down. vessel movements.
The company said road flooding could also hamper labor movements and lower its forecast for coal sales to a range of 18.5 million to 19 million tonnes, from a range of 19 million to 20 million. million before.
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