Australian authorities have issued at least 18 evacuation orders in western Sydney as heavy rainfall batters the region.
Thousands of Australians have been ordered to evacuate their homes in Sydney as torrential rain has battered the country's largest city and floodwaters have inundated its outskirts.
Roads across the city were cut off on Sunday and authorities said at least 18 evacuation orders were in place in western Sydney, an area that was inundated with severe flooding in March.
"This is a life-threatening emergency situation," Stephanie Cooke, emergency services minister for the state of New South Wales, told reporters.
Cooke asked those living along a 500-kilometre (310-mile) stretch of Australia's east coast, both north and south of Sydney, to consider cancelling their school holiday travel plans because of the weather.
With more wild weather expected in the coming days, Cooke described the floods as a "rapidly evolving situation" and warned that people should be "prepared to evacuate at short notice".
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9,500 people are now subject to evacuation orders and warnings, and this number continues to rise. NSW faces a number of dangers: flash flooding, riverine flooding and coastal erosion. I’m encouraging all communities to heed the advice of @NSWSES and @BOM_NSW.— Steph Cooke MP (@stephcookemp) July 3, 2022
Sydney dam begins to spill
Australia has been at the sharp end of climate change, with droughts, deadly bushfires, bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef and floods becoming more common and intense as global weather patterns change.
Sydney's Warragamba Dam began to spill in the early hours of Sunday morning, she said, well ahead of authorities' predictions.
While in Camden, a southwestern suburb of Sydney home to more than 100,000 people, local shops and a petrol station were inundated by floodwaters.
Emergency services conducted 29 flood rescues and were called out more than 1,400 times in the previous 24 hours, she said.
The east coast flooding event in March, caused by heavy storms that devastated Sydney's west, claimed 20 lives.
READ MORE: Heavy rains in Australia spark fresh round of flood evacuations
Heavy rainfall and locally damaging winds continuing in areas around the #Sydney basin #Newcastle #Central Coast #Cessnock #Maitland #Penrith #Wollongong #Nowra #Bowral Katoomba #Lithgow. pic.twitter.com/R6Z7J6wYic— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) July 3, 2022