Wild weather smashes New South Wales for third day


A storm-tossed ship stuck out­side Syd­ney Har­bour with 2,500 pas­sen­gers on a “cruise from hell” was Wed­nes­day fi­nally able to dock as the city and sur­round­ing ar­eas en­dured a third day of chaos wreaked by heavy rain and high winds.

Australia’s big­gest city and re­gions to the north and south, in­clud­ing the Cen­tral Coast and Hunter Val­ley, have been bat­tling cy­clonic wind gusts and non-stop down­pours since Mon­day, with emer­gency ser­vices deal­ing with nearly 10,000 calls for help.

Three el­derly peo­ple died in the coun­try town of Dun­gog on Tues­day, trapped in their homes as flash floods surged through, and po­lice have grave fears for two oth­ers miss­ing af­ter a car was swept away by rag­ing wa­ters in Mait­land, New South Wales on Wed­nes­day.

“We’ve got a gen­eral idea where that ve­hi­cle is, but we’re un­able to get to it due to the ris­ing wa­ter,” lo­cal po­lice In­spec­tor Brian Tracey told re­porters.

New South Wales state Pre­mier Mike Baird asked the com­mu­ni­ties worst af­fected to “hang tough.”

“The weather still re­mains danger­ous and the con­di­tions are danger­ous so this is not a time for com­pla­cency,” he said, although a se­vere weather warn­ing for Syd­ney was later lifted.

“Ev­ery com­mu­nity can have this as­sur­ance that we will do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble we can to help them get back on their feet.”

A hand­ful of homes have been washed away by fast-mov­ing floods, with count­less oth­ers dam­aged by fall­ing trees and power lines, which have also crushed cars.

The In­sur­ance Coun­cil of Australia said it had re­ceived 19,500 claims, with l osses es­ti­mated at AU$ 129 mil­lion ( NT$ 3.105 bil­lion; US$ 100 mil­lion) from what has been de­scribed as a once- in- a- decade storm.

“I ex­pect th­ese num­bers will rise quickly as home own­ers and busi­nesses as­sess the dam­age to their prop­er­ties and lodge claims with their in­surer or through their in­sur­ance bro­ker,” coun­cil chief Rob Whe­lan said.

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