Australia continues flood evacuations as man dies trapped in car
(Update 1: reports death in lede and par 2, changes headline, lede, adds detail about operations)
Sydney, Australia, Mar 24 (efe-epa).- Australia’s emergency services continued Wednesday to evacuate people in the east of the country amid the risk of further flooding due to overflowing rivers, as the first death was reported and persistent rains subsided.
After six days of flooding, the worst in decades in New South Wales, the state’s police said in an early afternoon statement that the body of a man was found inside a car trapped in floodwaters in the town of Glenorie in north-west Sydney, one of the areas hardest hit by the natural disaster.
Many areas in the vicinity of rivers and in floodplains are at risk, such as the town of Moree, 648 kilometers (403 miles) northwest of Sydney, the main area of concern on Wednesday.
The Australian authorities have ordered the evacuation of the low-lying areas of Moree with the Mehi River expected to peak on Wednesday night and issued flood alerts in the Hawkesbury River area, located to the north of the city.
This catastrophe, which has caused eastern Australia to receive two-thirds of its annual average rainfall in a week, led the emergency services to evacuate some 6,000 people in the last 24 hours, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
“But what we still have to be aware of is the fact that thousands and thousands of people are still on evacuation warnings, that the rivers will continue to swell, that catchments will continue to experience flows of water not seen in 50 years and in some places 100 years,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
A sunny day was expected in the region on Wednesday with a temperature of about 30 degrees in Sydney, Australia’s largest city and the capital of New South Wales, but the state is still at risk from overflowing rivers and floods that have displaced more than 24,000 people since the onset of the disaster.
While emergency services carry out evacuations and restock the supplies of residents in areas that remain cut-off by the floods, clean-up and damage assessment has begun in other areas.
The Australian government announced that it will deploy some 300 soldiers for clean-up tasks in flood-affected areas along with three additional helicopters that will join two others that are already assisting emergency services.
The government of Singapore also offered two Chinook helicopters for these tasks, Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud announced on Wednesday, while Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison carried out an aerial inspection of the affected areas.
The southern area of the northeastern state of Queensland, bordering New South Wales, is also at risk from overflowing rivers due to torrential rainfall, while the extreme southeast of Australia, including the east of the island of Tasmania, is also experiencing bad weather. EFE-EPA