A “mini-tornado” hit Australia’s east coast yesterday, officials said, as they warned parts of Queensland state to prepare for flooding, with torrential rains lashing the state set to intensify.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said the storm had caused much damage near Bundaberg, about 300km north of Brisbane, and several people were reportedly injured.
“We’ve had ... what appears to be a mini-tornado, there are reports of significant damage,” he told reporters in Brisbane. “Unroofing of various buildings around that town, power lines down and potentially an incident where a tree has gone down on a motor vehicle with, I believe two occupants. We have declared a disaster in that area.”
Queensland has experienced days of extremely heavy rainfall in the wake of tropical cyclone Oswald, and Newman warned that the government had concerns about potential flooding in Bundaberg and further south in Maryborough.
In Gladstone, north of Bundaberg, there are fears that flood waters could impact hundreds of properties, with evacuations already taking place.
Newman said southeast Queensland is expected to receive up to 300mm of rainfall in the coming days as he warned that many beaches were closed due to high winds, high tides and dangerous surf conditions.
“The rain event has only just started, there will be more intense rain over the next two days,” he said. “Right now we are trying to get a handle on what the potential impact of those rainfall figures across the catchment will be.”
Queensland experienced massive floods in early 2011 that ultimately claimed more than 30 lives, flooded thousands of homes and brought the state’s capital Brisbane to a standstill, and Newman said he was aware that people were anxious.
“This is a tightrope, because I want to make sure that people have all the information, but I don’t want to alarm them unnecessarily. We are monitoring this very closely,” he said.