Nine people have died after Christmas storms pounded Australia’s eastern seaboard, authorities said Wednesday, including two women who were washed through a stormwater drain.
Thunderstorms and destructive winds have in recent days battered the Australian states of Victoria and Queensland — capsizing boats, sparking flash floods, and tearing down concrete powerlines.
The government weather bureau has warned that coastal regions in Queensland were still at risk of “dangerous” storms, “life-threatening” floods, “giant” hail, and “damaging” winds.
Three women were “exploring” a large stormwater drain in the rural Queensland town of Gympie when they were swept away by floodwaters on Tuesday afternoon, police said.
By Wednesday police divers had recovered the bodies of two of the women. The third survived after she was washed onto the banks of a nearby river.
Eleven people were tossed into the ocean when a 39-foot yacht capsized at sea during an annual fishing trip near Brisbane.
Police said Wednesday that three men had drowned, while eight survivors had been scooped from the water and rushed to hospital.
“It has been a very tragic 24 hours due to the weather,” police commissioner Katarina Carroll told reporters.
The body of a nine-year-old girl was found after she went missing in flood waters on Brisbane’s outskirts, police said, while a 59-year-old woman was killed by a falling tree on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Utility company Energex said it was racing to restore electricity to more than 80,000 homes in the state.
“How strong were those storms? Enough to snap multiple concrete poles supporting high-voltage lines,” it posted on social media.
Meanwhile in Victoria, a woman was found dead late on Tuesday evening after flash floods swamped a regional campground in Buchan, 350 kilometres (217 miles) east of the state capital Melbourne.
A man was killed after he was struck by a falling tree branch in Caringal, 180 kilometres (111 miles) east of Melbourne.