Disasters & Accidents

Morrison declares national emergency over Australia floods

Sydney, Australia, Mar 9 (EFE).- Australia’s prime minister declared a national emergency on Wednesday due to the flooding hitting the country’s east coast, which has claimed 21 lives and caused millions of dollars in material damages.

Legislated in 2020 after devastating bushfires, this is the first time that the country has declared a national emergency as a result of a natural disaster, due to the “severe weather and flooding event across New South Wales and Queensland,” Scott Morrison said in a statement.

The emergency declaration – which must still get the formal approval of Governor General David Hurley – will allow the Australian authorities to use special emergency powers to access resources more quickly in order to help the areas devastated by the catastrophe.

For two weeks, the east coast of Australia has been experiencing torrential rains that have caused dangerous flash floods, which have claimed the lives of eight people in New South Wales and 13 in Queensland.

Morrison on Wednesday visited the town of Lismore, one of the most affected by the catastrophe and located about 600 kilometers north of Sydney, where he was received by a group of protesters who complained about the slow response of the authorities.

The prime minister, who also announced more financial aid and the extension of subsidies for victims, stressed that he understood the discontent and the protests of residents of Lismore as they face “a one-in-500-year event.”

Meanwhile, in Sydney, several towns in the west of the city are still at the mercy of the floods, while the residents of the northern beaches are recovering from the water that on Tuesday invaded the streets and highways like rivers, and subsequent landslides.

Winds of up to 90 kilometers per hour are expected in Sydney on Wednesday. About 900 millimeters of rain has fallen in the city since the beginning of the year, the highest volume since the 1950s.

The Australian government, which has paid disaster grants to some 330,000 people affected by the floods, has deployed some 4,400 troops to New South Wales and Queensland for clean-up and reconstruction tasks, according to military sources. EFE


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