Australia

Australian rescuers suspend search for storm missing

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Media captionOne of the homes on Sydney's Collaroy Beach lost its swimming pool to the storms

Search operations have been suspended overnight for people missing after deadly storms lashed Australia's east coast, causing widespread damage.

Three people have died in flooding, and storms continue to batter New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

Waves as high as 12m (40ft) caused severe erosion at Sydney's beaches and some houses are at risk of collapse.

In Tasmania, major flood warnings have been issued for seven rivers and two elderly people are feared drowned.

Rescuers have stopped looking for them overnight and the search will resume at dawn.

A man was reportedly swept into the Ouse river from his own back yard on Monday. A woman whose husband was rescued by helicopter from the roof of their house as it flooded is also missing.

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Media captionTorrential rain and high winds have caused havoc along Australia's east coast

In Sydney a man was washed off rocks near Bondi Beach. Land and sea rescue teams have failed to locate him and called off their work for the night.

Emergency responders in Australia have attended hundreds of call-outs during the storms and abnormally high tides and warned people not to try to walk or drive across flooded roads.

On Monday morning, a man's body was found in the Cotter River near Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory. Police said the 37-year-old was caught in floodwater at a river crossing.

Police divers also retrieved the bodies of two men whose cars were washed off New South Wales roads in separate incidents.

A 65-year-old man was caught inside his vehicle while trying to cross floodwater at Bowral, while another man was killed after his utility vehicle was washed off the road on Sydney's south-west fringe.

Cattle swept away

Northern Tasmania faced its worst flooding in decades on Monday, with parts of Launceston, Latrobe and Railton all under water.

The Insurance Council of Australia said insurance companies had so far received 11,150 claims across Queensland and New South Wales totalling an estimated A$38m ($28m; £19m).

People who had been evacuated from beachfront mansions in Sydney's affluent northern suburbs returned to their homes on Monday to find extensive damage to gardens, houses and in once case a swimming pool, which was swept onto the heavily eroded beach.

Farmers in Tasmania are said to be facing huge losses after cattle were swept away by the flooded Mersey river.

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Image caption Volunteers in Tasmania rescued cows that had been washed away down the Mersey

Thousands of people are still without electric power and many roads remain closed.

Tasmania's police minister, Rene Hidding, said the state's residents should be "absolutely responsible" around the water and avoid risking their lives.

He said: "Don't try to take nature on - it leads to tragedy. We already have grave fears for two of our fellow citizens and we pray for them.

"There is simply no case to enter flood waters with a motor vehicle or in person."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Enormous waves battered Australia's east coast, causing damage at many beaches
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A swimming pool attached to a mansion at Collaroy in northern Sydney collapsed onto the beach and residents were evacuated from waterside mansions
Image copyright AFP
Image caption This man took advantage of the massive waves hitting Sydney's beaches to surf through the storm
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A surfing tournament in Sydney was called off and at least one surfer was taken to hospital after trying to battle the huge waves
Image copyright Melissa Gulbin
Image caption Parts of Lismore in northern New South Wales were evacuated after the Wilson River flooded
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Image caption Weekend sporting fixtures saw players enduring miserable conditions

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