Australia

Sydney storms cause power cuts across New South Wales

High waves off Bondi Beach, Australia (15 Oct 2014) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Emergency services warned that heavy surf could create dangerous conditions along the coast

More than 14,000 homes in Sydney and across New South Wales were left without power overnight after a massive storm battered the Australian state.

Winds of up to 161km/h (100mph) were recorded in some areas with up to 170mm of rain falling along the south coast.

Heavy snow up to 15cm deep was also recorded in the Blue Mountains.

The State Emergency Service (SES) said it had received 1,629 calls for help, of which 73 were people who needed rescuing from floodwaters.

The agency said most of the calls for help came from Sydney's southern and south-western suburbs and from the regions of Illawarra and South Coast.

"This has gone from coast to mountains - all of Sydney has been involved in these storms," NSW Fire and Rescue Superintendent Paul Johnstone told reporters.

"It's a combination of everything, there's lightning strikes, heavy winds blowing trees, wires down and also the flooding," the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Sydney's Manly Ferry services were operating on rough seas on Wednesday

ABC News reported that about 9,000 homes still had no power on Wednesday afternoon.

It quoted state-owned supplier Ausgrid as saying the continuing poor conditions were complicating repair works.

"Just when we're making headway we're receiving more reports as other wires are coming down," said spokesman Anthony O'Brien.

'Roads blocked'

The strongest winds, with gusts of 161km/hr, were recorded at Wattamolla in the Royal National Park, about 20km south of Sydney.

Meanwhile in the Blue Mountains region, north-west of Sydney - which was battling bushfires in October last year, up to 15cm of snow fell overnight.

"Last year we had fire raging down the hill behind our school, we had police coming to inform us to get the children out as quickly as possible," Vicki Gillmore, headteacher of the Zig Zag school in Lithgow told ABC News.

"And we turn around and at the same time [this year] we've got snow covering the school.

"Roads are blocked, buses can't get in, teachers can't get into the school, backyards, schoolyards are covered with at least 6cm of snow."

In other incidents:

  • About 50 passengers had to be rescued from a train at North Bexley train station after floodwaters rose, trapping them inside
  • A container ship broke free of its moorings in Port Botany, crashing into a ship across the harbour, 9News reports
  • A family had to be rescued when their car became trapped in snow after a fallen tree blocked their route
  • At least one house, in Sydney's northern Pennant Hills surburb, caught fire after being hit by lightning

There were delays at Sydney airport and some 20 flights were cancelled or diverted because of winds around 106km/hr but flights were largely back to normal by Wednesday.

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