21 May 2009

Storms wreak havoc in Australia: 75,000 homes and businesses suffered blackouts


A wave washes over a flipped over car near the Currumbin Surf Club building (background) along a stretch of Gold Coast beach in the Australian state of Queensland on May 21, 2009. Tens of thousands of homes were without power and hundreds of schools closed on May 21 as a wild storm front hit Australia's northeast coast, pounding it with gale-force winds exceeding 100 kilometres (62 miles) an hour and torrential rains. - Getty Image



People take pictures of a flipped over car sitting in tidal waters along a stretch of Gold Coast beach in the Australian state of Queensland on May 21, 2009 after overnight storms lashed the area.- Getty Image

Sydney 21/05/09 - Tens of thousands of homes were without power and hundreds of schools closed on Thursday as a wild storm front lashed Australia's northeast coast.


A state of emergency was declared overnight in Queensland state, which was pounded by gale-force winds exceeding 100km/h and torrential rains.


A 46-year-old was killed when freak winds ripped a sheet of metal from a building on the Gold Coast tourist strip and it smashed through his office window, police said.


Up to 75 000 homes and businesses suffered blackouts as gusting winds felled trees and power lines, and the region received one-third of its annual rainfall in a single day.


Enough rain fell over 48 hours in Brisbane, the state's capital, to supply drinking water for more than a year.


The state's premier Anna Bligh said it was likely to be among the highest damage bills Queensland had ever seen, with the worst flooding since 1974.


"We are certainly not out of the woods yet, all the weather reports are indicating there is certainly more to come," Bligh said.


"There's a very high chance that what's coming will be as bad, if not worse, as some of what we've seen."


Almost 250 schools were closed and evacuations were under way in the neighbouring state of New South Wales (NSW), where emergency services said they were bracing for flash-flooding and severe winds.


"This (storm) system will bring very heavy rain, high winds and large waves to northeast NSW over the next few days before weakening and moving away later Saturday," the weather bureau said.


"Destructive wind gusts exceeding 125lm/h are possible along the coastal fringe during the next few days."


Low-lying coastal areas were expected to be swamped, with tides forecast to exceed the year's highest mark, it said.


Floods unleashed by cyclonic rains in February saw much of Queensland declared a disaster area, with more than one million square kilometres deluged and 3 000 homes damaged.


Further floods hammered the region last month, washing a number of motorists to their death and claiming the life of a 12-year-old girl who was swimming in a swollen weir. - AFP

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