Thousands of people in southeastern Australia were asked to evacuate their homes on Friday, including some in a western suburb of Melbourne, after two days of incessant rain that caused flash flooding and rapid waters that broke riverbanks.
Large parts of the state of Victoria, southern New South Wales and northern regions of the island state of Tasmania were hit by an intense weather system with some receiving more than a month of rain since Wednesday night, officials said. .
“Our river systems … are reaching major flood levels at various times today, over the weekend and over the next week,” Victoria’s chief operating officer, Victoria Emergency Services, told reporters. Tim Wiebusch.
Many rivers in Victoria, including the Maribyrnong in western Melbourne and the Goulburn further north, reached significant flood levels, prompting residents to evacuate overnight.
The Goulburn River at Seymour, about 100 kilometers north of Melbourne, surpassed the 7.64-meter record set in May 1974, the data showed. Emergency teams performed more than 200 flood rescues.
Upstream in Shepparton, rising waters are expected to exceed the 1974 peak by Tuesday and threaten more than 4,000 properties.
“In terms of damage to property, roads, public infrastructure and the sheer volume of water, this will set new records,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told a news conference.
Andrews said a decision would be made on Saturday on reopening the state’s purpose-built Covid-19 quarantine facility, closed last week after Australia lifted isolation rules, to house residents affected by flooding.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the federal government was ready to provide assistance to states affected by the floods.
“There are already ADF (Australian Defense Force) personnel on the ground in Victoria… this is a difficult time, my heart goes out to the affected communities at this time,” he was quoted as saying by local media.
Images on social media showed people wading through knee-deep water with their pets and some rescued in boats, while local media reported that some 200 stallion horses were at risk of being swept away in the Victorian country town. from mangalore.
“Everyone is in a state of ‘how is this really happening?'” Matt Iozzi, a resident of the suburb of Maribyrnong, who had to evacuate in the early hours of Friday morning, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“I talked to a few neighbors, they were all leaving or planning to leave in the next 30 minutes after seeing how fast the water was rising.”
Around 1,000 residents of Wedderburn, a small town 200 km north of Melbourne, have been ordered to evacuate urgently due to a possible breach of a nearby dam.
Agnico Eagle’s Fosterville gold mine, the largest in Victoria, has halted all non-essential operations, the company said. said a spokesman Reuters that the resumption of full operations could take several days.
In Tasmania, the flooding crisis intensified with new evacuation orders on Friday, while hundreds of residents in southern New South Wales spent the night in evacuation centers.
The rains had subsided by Friday afternoon, but the weather bureau warned of another possible wild weather system next week.
Devastating floods have repeatedly hit Australia’s east coast since early last year due to a multi-year weather phenomenon called La Niña, which brings more rain.