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Australia state swings from bush fires to flash flooding in 24 hours

Australia state swings from bush fires to flash flooding in 24 hours
Published October 4, 2023 Updated October 4, 2023 Bookmark Bookmark Share WhatsApp Telegram Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

SYDNEY — Less than 24 hours since residents in parts of Australia’s Victoria state fled bushfires, state authorities are now warning of flooding as heavy rain douses flames and lifts rivers in the southeastern state.

Flash flooding is expected through Wednesday (Oct 4) afternoon in northeastern Victoria, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, as rain drenched parts of the state where as recently as yesterday, around 17,000ha were ablaze.

First responders overnight rescued a farmer in the area who got trapped after driving through floodwaters, according to Chief Officer of Operations Tim Wiebusch at Victoria State Emergency Service.

Parts of the state had received up to 150mm of rain, almost eight times the state’s average in September, with more expected today, he added.

“Fortunately we have seen some rainfall across those two fires,” said Mr Wiebusch.

“But over these next 24, 48 hours, flash flooding, riverine flooding is really the key risk. We can’t emphasise enough, people need to be alert to their conditions.”

The rain comes during an unseasonably dry start to Australian spring, which began in September. Last month, was the driest September on record, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, with rainfall 71 per cent below the 1961 to 1990 average.

Firefights are still working to contain bushfires in two parts of Victoria state but authorities said there was no immediate threat to nearby residents.

Across the border in New South Wales state, a 5200ha bush fire burned out of control near the town of Bermagui, roughly 300km southwest of Sydney.

State fire authorities said conditions eased overnight although several properties were lost and firefighters still worked to contain the blaze. REUTERS