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Three dead, several missing as storm pounds Australia's east coast

By Allen Cone
Three dead, several missing as storm pounds Australia's east coast
Latrobe in north Tasmania was inundated as the Mersey River burst Monday. Two elderly people are reported missing on the island. Photo by Tasmania police/Facebook

SYDNEY, June 6 (UPI) -- Three people are dead and several are missing after flooding devastated the east coast of Australia over the weekend.

The storm then moved to Tasmania on Monday, where two elderly people are presumed drowned and major flood warnings have been issued for seven rivers on the island. A man in his 80s was swept into the Ouse River from his backyard and a woman in her 70s was missing when floodwaters inundated her house in the northwest part of the state

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The flooding in northern Tasmania is the worst in decades, the State Emergency Service said.

New South Wales police said two men died after their cars were trapped in floodwaters in separate parts of the state -- one at Bowral in the state's south end and another to the southwest of Sydney.

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One man was also confirmed dead in Canberra on Monday when rescuers found his body trapped in a car in a swollen river.

More than 86,000 homes in New South Whales lost power and there was widespread damage to buildings, roads and bridges, State Emergency Services spokesman Matt Reeves told CNN.

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"From a NSW perspective we are certainly seeing some major flooding in the north of the state around Lismore, and we had over 2,300 people evacuated from their homes in Lismore over the last few days," Reeves said.

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"It's very widespread, it certainly hasn't been a localized event, so really from the north coast of NSW literally to the south coast."

Reeves said more than 700 people were evacuated from Narrabeen and Collaroy after the biggest high tide of the year coincided with the storm on Sydney's northern beaches.

Reeves said they won't know the extent of the flooding for several days.

"Where we've had flash flooding it's predominantly subsided but where we have inundations from river systems and lakes it's going to probably be another couple of days before we see that water subside and then crews can get in there proper to start that recovery process," he said.

New South Whales Premier Mike Baird urged people to stay safe.

"This morning we come with a heavy heart, because this storm, which so-so ferocious, has taken life from us," he said from Collaroy, where more than 700 homes had been evacuated.

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