Brisbane storm: Huge clean-up in Queensland

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Media captionHuge hailstones cause chaos in Brisbane, Australia

A huge clean-up operation is under way in the Australian city of Brisbane after a severe storm swept across south-east Queensland.

The storm produced hailstones the size of golf balls, causing widespread damage.

Up to 90,000 homes were without power as winds gusting at 140km/h (85mph) brought down trees and power lines.

Commuters were also stranded after rail services were suspended across Brisbane.

Transport Minister Scott Emerson estimated the cost of the damage at more than $A100m (£54m).

He said it was probably the worst storm Brisbane had seen in almost 30 years.

Queensland state Premier Campbell Newman also said the storm was the worst to hit the city since 1985.

"Mercifully, we are only hearing reports at this stage of 12 people being injured. I'm astounded but so grateful that that is all that we've got, given the amount of shrapnel flying around last night," he said.

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Media captionThe BBC's Joe Inwood: "The damage was as widespread as it was sudden"
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Image caption There was extensive damage to cars and buildings, including this flat in Toowong suburb
Image copyright Warren Daniels
Image caption The storm blasted almost horizontal rain through Brisbane
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Image caption Cars were almost submerged by the flooding

State-owned electricity supplier Energex had emergency teams working overnight to reconnect customers. But by Friday morning, 68,000 homes remained blacked out.

The storm swept in on Thursday afternoon, leaving many commuters trapped for hours in stalled electric trains.

TV footage showed windows smashed in high-rise buildings and cars almost submerged in flooded streets.

The force of the storm ripped roofing from homes and businesses, and tipped over light planes at Brisbane's Archerfield Airport.

Eyewitness Ian Roth described the aftermath as "like a warzone".

"When I was walking back from the shopping mall there were trees ripped out," he said.

"There were big metallic signs on the road, twisted metal. In my office there was a glass panel that had been taken out."

Queensland's emergency services said they had received about 700 requests for assistance.

"Residents are reminded that SES [State Emergency Service] volunteers cannot always assist immediately," the fire and emergency services said in a statement.

Australian broadcaster ABC reported that the Brisbane convention centre that hosted President Barack Obama and other world leaders at the G20 summit two weeks ago had suffered hail and water damage.

Brisbane is Australia's third largest city and has a population of 2.2 million people.

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Image caption Tourists in Brisbane's central business district took pictures of the hailstones

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