Severe weather forecast for southeast Australia amid flood crisis

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s meteorologist predicted heavy rain on Sunday across large swaths of the country’s south and east as a flood crisis continues in the two most populous states.

The week-long emergency in New South Wales and Victoria comes as Australia experiences a third consecutive La Nina weather event, bringing heavy rain.

The floods killed five people, sparked thousands of requests for assistance and saved hundreds of people from rising waters.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning for a 320 km (200 mile) stretch of the NSW north coast on Sunday, including the regional center of Lismore.

Lismore was one of the towns worst hit by devastating floods that hit eastern Australia in March, killing at least 13 people and forcing tens of thousands more to be evacuated.

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The forecaster predicted rainfall for the area, which also includes Byron Bay, of up to 300mm (1ft) in total over the next 24 hours.

“Locally intense rainfall that can lead to dangerous and life-threatening flash floods is also possible during this time,” the agency said on its website.

There were 122 flood warnings in place for New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state. Flooding was expected to be worst in the northeast near Moree and on the southern border around the town of Moama, around 780km (480 miles) from Sydney.

Footage provided by emergency services showed large parts of Moree, a town of around 7,500 people, submerged and people being dragged to safety from flooded rivers in other parts of the state.

Across the border, Victoria had 67 flood warnings, with parts of nearby Kerang and Echuca – a town of 15,000 people on Australia’s longest river, the Murray – urged to evacuate .

The river had risen to around 94.80 meters (311 feet) on Sunday, similar to the devastating flood levels of 1993, and is expected to peak around 95 meters later today.

Around 750 people have been rescued across the state in the past 10 days, the Victoria State Emergency Service said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday that 150 members of the Australian Defense Force were attending in New South Wales and 350 troops in Victoria.

Albanese last weekend toured flooded parts of Victoria with state Premier Daniel Andrews after suburbs near the central business district of the state capital, Melbourne, were flooded.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said on Friday that widespread flooding would hurt Australia’s economic growth and increase inflation.

(Reporting by Sam McKeith; Editing by William Mallard)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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