Ten dead after Christmas and Boxing Day storms in Australia

Thousands of homes without power as gusty winds knock down over 1,000 power lines in Queensland

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Thursday 28 December 2023 03:22

Related: Crocodile lurks in creek as severe floods hit Australia

At least 10 people, including a nine-year-old child, were killed in Australia as severe thunderstorms pounded the country's eastern region over the Christmas holidays.

Torrential rains along with strong winds and hailstones lashed the states of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland on Christmas and Boxing Day.

At least one person was missing following the storm that knocked out power from over 85,000 properties.

Authorities on Wednesday announced that a body of a man was discovered Victoria, taking the death toll from storms that wreaked havoc to 10.

Gusty winds blew off roofs and brought down trees in some of the worst-affected areas of Queensland, where a 59-year-old woman was killed by a falling tree in the city of Gold Coast on Monday.

Further rain was expected though the wild weather was likely to ease by Wednesday afternoon, according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology.

"Thankfully today, we are not expecting to see quite as widespread thunderstorm activity but there is still a risk of severe thunderstorms right across the east coast," forecaster Jonathan How told ABC television.

However, authorities warned that a couple of areas of severe storm across Sydney to Melbourne remained possible.

Three men were killed after a boat with 11 people aboard capsized in rough weather in Moreton Bay off the south Queensland coast on Tuesday.

The body of the nine-year-old girl was also found on Tuesday after she was swept away in a flooded stormwater drain. The girl, identified as Mia Holland, reportedly jumped a fence at about 6.30pm (local time) and was lost in surging waters.

“Mia loved adventures and getting up to mischief,” the family said in a statement on GoFundMe fundraising page set up following her death.

The bodies of two women in their 40s were found in the Mary River in the Queensland town of Gympie. They were among three women swept into the flooded river through a stormwater drain.

Queensland police commissioner Katarina Carroll blamed "extraordinarily difficult weather" for the tragedies. "It has been a very tragic 24 hours due to the weather," Ms Carroll told reporters.

At least 250,000 lightning strikes were recorded Christmas Day and another 150,000 were recorded the day after, authorities said, warning of fast-rising rivers and streams that could burst banks inundating campgrounds.

In Victoria, the Bureau of Meteorology issued an initial minor flood warning for Bunyip River, Snowy River, Werribee River and the Loddon River.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese in a statement said: “My heart goes out to the families of those Australians who have lost their lives – and to the communities taking care of them.”

Queensland premier Steven Miles called the storms "unprecedented" after a concrete power pole was destroyed, something he had never seen happen. "Our focus is on the immediate response and making homes and businesses safe," he said.

"The storms have made restoring power safely extraordinarily difficult but Energex workers are working around the clock to get the lights back on," Mr Miles said in a post on X, addressing the concerns of thousands of people who remained without electricity.

The storms came after former tropical cyclone Jasper which made landfall earlier this month causing flooding and widespread damage in Queensland.

As Australia battles rain in the east, several regions in the west, in contrast, are fighting fires. A volunteer firefighter was killed while responding to a bushfire.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in