Four die and thousands leave homes as torrential rain batters Australia

Featured Oceania - January 30th, 2013

Just weeks after bushfires raged in Australia amid record hot temperatures, the country’s east coast was battered by torrential rains and violent wind, forcing thousands of people to leave their homes and killing four people.

Around 2,000 homes in Queensland and New South Wales were submerged in water after the tail-end of tropical cyclone Oswald dumped unparalleled amounts of rain, causing the worst flooding ever in some coastal areas.

Emergency services said that the rain had cut off more than 40,000 people in the north of New South Wales while four people in Queensland died in the storm, including a three-year old boy who died after being hit by a falling tree. People had to be rescued from their rooftops as floodwaters rose.

Hardest hit was the east coast of town of Bundaberg, north of Brisbane, as the storm brought high winds, torrential rains and even tornadoes, AFP reports.

Hundreds of residents, including patients from the local hospital, had to be airlifted to safety on Monday and Tuesday after being trapped by surging floodwaters.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited wildfire-hit areas in southeastern Victoria state and described the contrasting scenes as the storm ravaged the east coast.

“I was looking at blackened landscape, burnt trees, black earth; saw some homes that were just completely destroyed. They were images in my eyes directly yesterday, and then whenever I saw an image coming from Queensland, it’s of wild weather and cascading water… flooded homes…” she told ABC Radio.