Wild weather in south-east Australia has toppled trees, trapping people in cars and houses and cutting power to more than 200,000 properties as many braced for flooding.
The extraordinary weather system that hit the state of Victoria and its capital Melbourne brought wind gusts of up to 74mph and up to eight inches of rain, meteorologist Kevin Parkin said.
As the wind and rain eased, the flood risk increased from rising rivers. Around 220 homes threatened by a swollen creek were ordered to evacuate at Traralgon, east of Melbourne.
Australia’s second most populous state had not been lashed by such a severe wind and rain event since 2008, officials said.
Several major roads had been closed by floodwaters, a landslide and fallen trees. Collapsed power lines also posed dangers and left more than 200,000 homes across Victoria without electricity.
Emergency services received more than 5,000 calls for help, and 3,500 of those related to trees falling on houses and trapping people.
A woman in her 40s was taken to hospital in a stable condition with head injuries after a tree struck her home, police and the state ambulance service said.
Police officers walked a mile to a house in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne to reach the woman who reported a tree had struck her house and separated her from her young son. Emergency workers were able to clear a road so that the mother and son could be taken to paramedics.
New South Wales, Australia’ most populous state on Victoria’s northern border, was in the grip of a cold snap on Thursday with unusually heavy and widespread snowfalls cutting power to hundreds of homes.
Several parts of the state were forecast to reach near-record low temperatures for the month of June before warmer weather on Friday.