Australia hit by 'rain bomb' as flooding death toll rises

Heavy rain has battered Queensland and New South Wales for most of this week

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A severe storm system pummelled Australia's eastern city of Brisbane on Sunday, leading to evacuations, power cuts and school closures as the death toll from accompanying flash floods climbed to seven.

More than 1,400 homes in the capital of Queensland were at risk of flooding while more than 28,000 homes were without power across the state, as pristine beaches on the Gold and Sunshine coasts, which are key tourist attractions, all closed.

Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Adrian Schrinner, described the weather system as a "rain bomb above south-east Queensland".

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk pleaded with people living in Brisbane to stay home as the weather system moved south into major residential areas.

It's just coming down in buckets
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

"We never expected this rain," she said. "This rain bomb is just really, you know, it's unrelenting ... It's just coming down in buckets."

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has issued flood warnings for vast parts of Queensland and northern New South Wales, with more than 300 millimetres falling in some areas in the past 24 hours.

More than 100 schools across south-east Queensland will be closed on Monday. State rescue services said they received 100 requests an hour for help in recent days.

Among the people killed in the flooding were a 34-year-old man who tried to swim to safety after the waters submerged his car, and another whose vehicle was swept away in the neighbouring state of New South Wales. Police continue to search for a man in his 70s who fell into the Brisbane River on Friday.

About 700 people were asked to leave the city of Gympie in Queensland on Saturday after the Mary River system surged beyond 22.06 metres to create the town's worst flood since the 1880s.

Huge downpours have battered eastern Australia for the better part of a week. Meteorologists said the deluge and thunderstorms would continue through Monday, before starting to ease off in Queensland, but moving south to New South Wales, where some communities at risk in its north-east have been told to leave.

The risk of riverine and flash flooding was "very real over coming days", said Steph Cooke, the Emergency Services Minister in New South Wales.

Updated: February 27, 2022, 9:01 AM