MELBOURNE, Australia – At least seven people have died as flash floods have swept northeastern Australia over the past few days, with extreme weather forcing people to evacuate and schools to close, while thousands of homes have been damaged. submerged in water.
Queensland has been hardest hit, with torrential rain pelting towns and cities and slowly moving south towards the state capital, Brisbane, which braced for another night of major storms on Sunday. .
About 1,400 homes in Brisbane are considered at risk by authorities. Across Queensland, more than 1,000 people were evacuated and about 34,000 homes lost power over the weekend. Hundreds of schools will be closed on Monday, and officials have asked residents to work from home.
Australia has suffered from particularly severe weather over the past few years, including catastrophic fires, drought and widespread flooding.
According to experts, the country, a giant landmass as large as the continental United States and surrounded by oceans that guide its climate, has suffered from extremes of weather for millennia, including including extreme droughts ending with major floods. However, while some of the factors that lead to those swings are unlikely, climate change is increasing the likelihood of downpours.
Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland’s premier, on Sunday described the latest disaster as a “rain bomb”.
“It just pours down the bucket,” she said at a press conference. “It’s not a waterfall, it’s like rushing water.”
Ms. Palaszczuk compared the wild weather to an “unpredictable storm” and said authorities had not expected the storm system to linger in the state for that long.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia described the situation as “very worrying” and urged people to stay in their homes.
“It’s going to be a very nervous night in Brisbane as we see the rain continue to fall,” he said on Sunday.
Authorities say seven people have died since Wednesday, with six in Queensland and one in New South Wales.
The latest is a 34-year-old Brisbane man who died trying to get out of his flooded vehicle on Sunday morning. Others include a volunteer emergency worker who died when her car was swept away while she was on her way to help a family trapped in floodwaters.
Photos and videos posted on social media showed houses flooded to their roofs and floodwaters reaching traffic lights.
Some have brought use boats, including kayaks, to get aroundand the scene of a person swimming in the flooded cricket ground went viral on social media, despite authorities advising people to stay away from the water.
The town of Gympie, where two deaths occurred, has seen its worst flooding since 1893.
Beaches along the Gold Coast, near Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, north of the city – already iconic holiday destinations – were closed on Sunday because of dangerous surfing conditions.
The heaviest rain is forecast to move south in the coming days, to New South Wales, where authorities have urged some residents in at-risk areas to evacuate.
The last time Queensland faced similar catastrophic flooding was in 2011, when 33 people died after torrential rain over several weeks. That disaster affected more than 200,000 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/27/world/asia/australia-floods-queensland.html Flash floods Thumps Northeast Australia, at least 7 people died