Unrelenting rains over the past three days swelled rivers in Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales (NSW), causing widespread damage and triggering calls for mass evacuations.
“We need to brace ourselves, it will be a very difficult week,” NSW state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters.
Torrential rain which has submerged large swathes of NSW is in stark contrast to the weather conditions in the same regions a year ago, when authorities were battling drought and catastrophic bushfires.
“I don’t know any time in a state history where we have had these extreme weather conditions in such quick succession in the middle of a pandemic,” Berejiklian said.
Sydney on Sunday recorded the wettest day of the year with almost 111 mm (4.4 inches) of rain, while some regions in NSW’s north coast received nearly 900 mm of rain in the last six days, more than three times the March average, government data showed.
Authorities said around 18,000 people have been evacuated from low lying areas of the state.