In­jured in storm, boy fights for life

Otago Daily Times - - WORLD WEEKEND -

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

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