Worst storm in thirty years hits Newcastle, Australia

Friday, June 8, 2007

The corner of King and Steel Street in the Newcastle CBD. This picture showing several cars floating in the middle of the normally busy intersection.

Up to eight people may have died after Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia experienced its worst storm in thirty years.

NSW Premier Morris Iemma made the declaration at 9.30pm on the 8th June, as people waded through waist-deep water in the centre of the city. Authorities have had to call off the search for a family of five, who were lost when the Old Pacific Highway sank into a thirty-metre deep chasm underneath them. The bodies of an adult and two children were found in the car this morning.

Police are also looking for an elderly couple missing in the Hunter Valley, and a Newcastle man who was swept down a storm water drain in the northern part of the city.

Authorities also fear a "potentially major environmental disaster", as bulk carrier Pasha Bulker is grounded on a reef in Nobby's Beach. The vessel contains over 700 tonnes of fuel and shows some signs of breaking up. Twenty-two crew members were rescued earlier in the day. Two other vessels, the Sea Confidence and the Betis required assistance from tugs with the Sea Confidence coming within 700m of the shore.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has issued further flooding and severe weather warnings; they expect the weather to continue overnight easing during Sunday for the area.