Six Dead, Apartments Evacuated in Australian Coast Storms

Six Australians have died since Friday and about 60 were evacuated from apartment blocks threatened by flooding in Sydney Saturday night as rainstorms continued a two-week battering of the nation’s east coast.

Downpours eroded soil at a construction site in western Sydney’s Harris Park, where residents of three adjacent blocks at risk of collapse were evacuated Saturday as a precaution, New South Wales state police said in a website statement. On South Ballina Beach in the state’s north, a six-year-old boy died after being swept away while walking along the waterline with his father and older brother, police said, adding to five deaths in neighboring Queensland state Friday.

“I’d like to never see these types of incidents occur again,” Queensland police Inspector Lee Jeffries told reporters Saturday in Caboolture, an outlying suburb north of Brisbane where four died in floodwaters after as much as 36 centimeters (14 inches) of rain fell in 24 hours. “This is the tragic outcome of where vehicles have entered flooded roads.”

A fortnight of storms along the coast have temporarily halted the rail network serving Newcastle, the world’s biggest coal-export harbor, and will cost the insurance arm of Suncorp Group Ltd. about A$135 million ($106 million).

At Logan City, to the south of Brisbane, 17.4 centimeters of rain fell in the 24 hours to 9 a.m. Saturday morning, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Numerous locations in a swathe of country from Noosa north of Brisbane to Coffs Harbour in northern New South Wales state received more than 10 centimeters of rain in the same period, according to maps published on the bureau’s website.

Iron Ore Hub

Flooding may develop over the weekend in river catchments around the Port Hedland Coast and the De Grey River, the bureau said in a separate statement Saturday. It issued an alert for the West Pilbara district and said that flooding may develop into Sunday.

The Pilbara is the world’s biggest producer of iron ore, and Port Hedland is the largest export harbor for the steelmaking commodity.

Port Hedland and Dampier, the country’s main iron-ore export harbors, remained open while Ashburton port was closed, the Pilbara Ports Authority said on its website.

Marine wind warnings were canceled for the Ningaloo Coast after Tropical Cyclone Quang was downgraded to a Category 1 Storm yesterday.

In Caboolture, a man in his 70s, a woman in her 30s and an eight-year-old boy were pronounced dead at the spot where their car was reported to have been swept away at about 5:30 p.m. local time Friday. About 6 a.m. Saturday morning police recovered the body of a 49-year-old man who was in a separate car in the same incident.

About 3 a.m. Saturday, police recovered the body of a 75-year-old man whose car was swept away by flood waters in the nearby suburb of Burpengary, they said in another statement.

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