Storms and flooding hit south-eastern Australia, kill 3

At least three people were killed and four were missing following heavy storms and floods over the weekend in Australia, officials said Monday.

The bodies of two men were found in cars that were trapped in floods in separate incidents in New South Wales, police said.

Two people in the state were missing. One was a swimmer swept away Monday by strong waves at Sydney's Bondi Beach, which was officially closed to swimmers and surfers at the time.

In Tasmania, where there was more than 200 millimetres of rainfall over the weekend, two elderly people were missing, police said.

In Canberra, one man died in "savage floodwaters" after his two-ton utility vehicle flipped and trapped him, police said.

Rescuers were at the scene planning how to reach the 37-year-old when his vehicle was swept away. His body was later found in another area.

Some accidents were caused by people not taking precautions, officials said.

"There have been many rescues where people have driven or walked into floods," emergency services spokesman Matt Reeves said.

"Where it's fast-moving water, people are underestimating the force of the water and even vehicles can be easily swept away."

Police expressed frustration at recklessness by members of the public.

"What do we have to say to get the message across? Flood waters are deadly – we can't put it any other way," New South Wales Assistant Police Commissioner Kyle Stewart said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offered his condolences to the families of those who died, and warned people to stay away from the floodwaters.

The storm has moved to the south coast towards Melbourne and Tasmania, by Sydney will continue to see dangerous high waves and flooding, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

More than 1,000 houses were evacuated in Sydney and its outskirts, and more than 280 rescues carried out over the past two days, the emergency services said.

Around 9,700 calls for help were made in the last two days, and flood warnings were in force in the area. All of the beaches in Sydney and Gold Coast remain closed, with waves up to 14 metres.

In some residential neighbourhoods, the soil close to the coast eroded and some houses were partially washed away.

"It looks like a tsunami has hit," Tarek Ibrahim, the owner of Sloppy Tee's Cafe at Collaroy Beach Club, told 2GB radio on Monday.

"There is debris everywhere. The beachfront that was only completed about three weeks ago is now totally devastated."

Highways and bridges have been closed in many areas. More than 226,000 homes and businesses were left without power during the weekend storms.

Some of the train lines continue to be disrupted in the outskirts of Sydney, according to Transport New South Wales, while more than a dozen schools were also closed.

Last update: Mon, 06/06/2016 - 10:42


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