Tropical Cyclone Debbie has claimed its first victims after two were reported killed in flood waters on Australia’s east coast Friday.
ABC news reported the body of one woman was recovered from a flooded property in Burringbar, New South Wales on Friday morning. She had been reported missing overnight.
The body of a second woman was found in a river in the state’s Hunter Valley after her car was swept off a flooded bridge. Police divers found the body of the 64-year-old in the vehicle. Her 74-year-old husband was able to escape the car and survived.
About 40,000 people have been evacuated in northern New South Wales and south-east Queensland because of the floods that have followed in the wake of Cyclone Debbie. The storm, a category four weather system, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, made landfall in north-east Queensland on Tuesday.
In Queensland, strong winds of up to 120 kilometers per hour persisted Thursday as the worst of the low pressure system passed over the area. However, heavy rainfall totaling 600mm over the last 24 hours has proved the greatest hazard. Half a dozen rivers in south-east Queensland have been pushed to major flood levels with the threat expected to remain in place for days.
A section of a causeway bridge in the Gold Coast, 41 miles south of Queensland’s state capital Brisbane, was ripped away by flooding overnight. The Gold Coast Bulletin reported that a vehicle was on the bridge when it gave way.
Speaking following the deaths in New South Wales and offering condolences, Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull praised the response of Australia’s emergency services. "It brings out the best in Australians, the resilience and the solidarity of the communities and the extraordinary response of the emergency services supported by the Australian Defence Force," he said.
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