Australian government officials ordered roughly 50,000 residents of Sydney to evacuate their homes on Tuesday after local waterways swelled beyond danger levels amid heavy rains, Reuters reported.
“About 50,000 residents in New South Wales, most in Sydney’s western suburbs, have been told to either evacuate or warned they might receive evacuation orders,” the news agency relayed on July 5.
“There are now 98 evacuation orders and 60 warnings covering 45,000 people in place — up from the 32,000 affected on Monday — for the emergency that now stretches from the Central Coast,” Australia’s 7News reported on July 5.
Australia’s federal government has declared the floods in and around Sydney a natural disaster, a designation that will allow affected residents to receive emergency funds. Torrential rainfall has poured down in and around Sydney since July 1, causing inundations across the region for the fourth time in 18 months. The weather emergency has severely disrupted normal life and commerce in Sydney, which is Australia’s largest city (population 5.3 million) and home to one of the South Pacific’s most important ports.
Australia’s 7News revealed on Tuesday that one evacuation effort to rescue the crew of a vessel off Sydney’s coast was so treacherous that it had yet to be completed despite repeated attempts.
Detailing the ordeal on July 5, the news outlet wrote:
The 21 crew members aboard the Portland Bay ship anchored perilously off the shore of Cronulla [Sydney suburb] must continue to wait to be rescued. The tow line snapped in 11-metre swells off the Royal National Park and thwarted attempts to winch the crew free after it was deemed too dangerous.
The bulk carrier is now double anchored in a more sheltered position until conditions are expected to ease around 3am on Wednesday [July 6], when it is expected to be brought to Port Botany [sic].
The Hong Kong-based ship had already delivered its cargo of cement in Port Kembla, but contains 1000 tonnes of fuel oil which could create an ecological disaster if spilled.
Port Kembla is located in Australia’s News South Wales (NSW) state about 120 miles south of Sydney Harbor. Sydney is the capital of NSW, which is a southeastern state.
“The latest wild storm cell — which brought a year’s worth of rain in three days to some areas —is likely to ease in Sydney from Tuesday [July 5] as the coastal trough moves north,” Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said on Tuesday as quoted by Reuters.
“But the risk of flooding could remain through the week with most river catchments already near capacity even before the latest deluge. Some regions have received 800mm (31.5 inches) of rain since Saturday [July 2], eclipsing Australia’s annual average rainfall of around 500mm (20 inches),” the news agency observed.
Australia has suffered from record floods nationwide in recent months, with some in the country’s northeast negatively affecting crop harvests.