Injured in storm, boy fights for life
BRISBANE: A Queensland boy is fighting for his life after being hit by a falling tree not far from where a young mum was forced to use her body to save her baby from a devastating hailstorm.
The boy was trapped beneath a large tree that fell on him in Coolabunya, one of the South Burnett communities hit by a line of supercell storms and tornadoes on Thursday.
Two fourwheeldrives were needed to get the tree off the boy, who was flown to hospital in a critical condition, paramedics said.
Authorities expect the damage bill from the wild weather to be hefty, with crops wiped out, roofs torn from homes and the power network hit.
People caught up in the tempest have expressed shock at the ferocity of the winds and the scale of damage done by hailstones that were as big as tennis balls in some places.
Fiona Simpson believes her 4monthold daughter could have died in their car had she not used her own body to shield the baby when huge hail broke their wind screen while leaving Nanango on Thursday.
‘‘I looked down and I could see she was screaming but I couldn’t even hear her, that’s how loud it was,’’ she told the ABC, adding the hail struck with such force that it ‘‘shredded’’ her grandmother’s skin.
Ms Simpson and her grandmother suffered cuts and severe bruising but her baby escaped with just some head bumps.
Talks were under way to determine if the hardhit South Burnett region should be declared a disaster zone, with entire crops lost at harvest time and homes damaged.
At Blackwater, in central Queensland, winds gusted to 144kmh, a wind speed associated with a Category 2 cyclone.
Authorities say wheat, barley, melon and fruit crops have been lost.
Stonefruit farmer Shane Francis says his farm lost peaches and nectarines worth $2 million in 20 minutes of fury.
About 1000 insurance claims for storm damage have already been lodged. — AAP