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Added: March 20, 2021
Emergency authorities in Australia are warning of “life threatening” flash floods as torrential rains batter parts of the country’s east coast.
Dozens of people have been rescued from floodwaters, and residents in many low-lying communities of New South Wales have been ordered to leave their homes.
Police say hundreds of people have flocked to evacuation centres in areas north of the city of Sydney.
Major roads have been shut. Footage has emerged of a house being swept away.
Dams around Sydney are expected to overflow over the weekend, WaterNSW warns.
Up to 100mm (four inches) of rain is forecast for Sydney, and as much as 300mm for the lower Blue Mountains, west of the city.
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Agata Imielska from the Bureau of Meteorology warned of localised intense rainfall and damaging winds, saying the public should be aware of “dangerous conditions” that can change quite quickly.
“If you don’t need to travel, if you don’t need to head out today, this is the day to stay at home,” Ms Imielska was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.
More storms are forecast in the coming days, and parts of eastern Australia could receive up to a metre of rain in the space of just a week, the BBC’s Phil Mercer in Sydney reports.