Severe storms in Australia kill four, force hundreds to flee

Storms in Australia damage property while causing coastal erosion.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A swimming pool damaged by severe weather at Collaroy Beach in Sydney, June 6, 2016/Reuters.

Australians are trying to recover after severe storms hit the country's east coast during the weekend, leaving at least three people dead while causing serious damage to homes.

Wild winds, waves and flooding are part of the so-called east coast low weather phenomenon.

New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland were the first to be hit by the storm which made landfall on Friday, it also triggered floods in some Brisbane suburbs.

Waves up to five metres forced people to flee their homes while 26,000 homes were left without power.

The police have received more than 9,250 emergency calls and carried out 280 flood rescues.

According to local media, climate change is not the cause of the extreme weather conditions as such events typically occur at this time of the year.

Collaroy Beach, where houses are at risk of collapsing, narrowed up to 50 metres. Homes right by the coast lost backyards while one lost a swimming pool after 13 metre-high waves hit the beach.

A man stands inside an area of The Beach Club at Collaroy beach in Sydney, June 6, 2016/Reuters.

Tasmania, currently at high risk of major flooding that could come on Tuesday night, has issued warnings for five rivers that could pose a danger.

"I have been around for the best part of 30 years, and we've had some major flooding on occasion, but generally only in one or two rivers at a time," Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Simon McCulloch said on Monday.

Tasmania’s Police Minister, Rene Hidding warned people on how to be extra cautious during such weather conditions.

"Don't try to take nature on - it leads to tragedy. We already have grave fears for two of our fellow citizens, and we pray for them.”

"There is simply no case to enter flood waters with a motor vehicle or in person."

Director of University of New South Wales' Water Research Laboratory Professor Ian Turner confirmed that several homes were severely damaged.

"We could hear [the houses] creaking and groaning. Some of them have clearly suffered a degree of structural damage."

"They will require a very careful look before people can go back inside them."

People are now concerned with restoring the damages which are estimated to be up to $38 million, the Insurance Council of Australia said.

However, insurers are still assessing the impact of the catastrophe.

In the meantime, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull suspended his scheduled campaign tour due to the heavy storms that hit the country.

His competitor, Bill Shorten, is diverting his campaign to Sydney after the floodings.

"Bill Shorten and I were in touch yesterday about the response to the disaster and of course we are absolutely united in thanking and supporting the communities that have been affected by these shocking storms," Turnbull told reporters local media.

"And while we disagree on more than a few things at the moment, in an election campaign, we are very much on the same page in supporting these communities and supporting the proposition that the federal government should do everything to help them get back on their feet."

TRTWorld and agencies