Floods hit Australia, forcing thousands to evacuate

Floods hit Australia, forcing evacuation of thousands

UPGRADE DAY

Thousands of Sydney residents were called on Sunday by authorities to evacuate their homes amid the threat of flooding on the outskirts of Australia's largest metropolis, plagued by torrential rains.  

Roads have been blocked and at least 18 evacuation orders are in effect in the west of the city, an area affected by severe flooding in March.

“This is a situation life-threatening emergency,” alerted Stephanie Cooke, Minister of Emergency Services for the state of New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital.

Australia is particularly tested by climate change, regularly hit by droughts, devastating forest fires, not to mention repeated and increasingly intense floods.

With further bad weather expected in the coming days, Ms Cooke described a 'rapidly evolving situation' and warned people should be 'ready to evacuate' urgently.

Warragamba Dam began to overflow in the early hours of Sunday morning, she said, well ahead of authorities' forecasts.

In Camden, a suburb south-west of Sydney home to more than 100,000 people, shops and a gas station were already flooded.

Emergency services rescued 29 people and were called more than 1400 times in the past 24 hours.

In March, flooding caused by heavy storms devastated western Sydney and claimed 20 lives.

As the planet warms, the atmosphere contains more vapor water, increasing the risk of heavy rainfall events, scientists say. These rains, combined with other factors related in particular to land use planning, favor flooding.