Police said the death toll rose to 10 after a woman believed to be in her 80s was found dead inside a flooded building.
Floodwaters from the deluge, which began late last week, have inundated several towns and bridges in Queensland and New South Wales, and moved south with heavy rains and forecasts of possible flash floods in Sydney.
“This weather system … we’re going to see it come to the central coast of Sydney and we’re already seeing elements of that now,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a media briefing.
Sydney, Australia’s largest city with more than 5 million people, could receive up to 150 mm (6 inches) of rain within six hours on Tuesday afternoon, the Bureau of Meteorology said. Sydney’s average rainfall for March is 138 mm, according to official data.
New South Wales Premier Dominic Beirut described the severe weather as “one event in a thousand years” and said emergency crews had carried out more than 1,000 rescues in the state after receiving 6,000 calls for help so far.
Hundreds of people are still stuck at home in the northern New South Wales city of Lismore, facing the worst flooding ever, amid reports of some spending the night on rooftops. Mayor Steve Craig told Channel Seven that nine people are still missing and 400 rescue operations have yet to be carried out.
Authorities said about 50 people were rescued after they got stuck on a bridge overnight when rapidly rising water flooded its ends.
The La Nina climate pattern on the east coast of Australia, usually associated with greater rainfall, dominated for the second year in a row.
Queensland Premier Anastasia Balachchuk said on Tuesday that Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city, has received about 80% of its annual precipitation over the past three days.
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