One dead and 27 hurt as storms hit coast

Chaos as trees uprooted and roofs ripped off
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The Independent Online

One man was killed and at least 27 people were injured as a wild storm lashed Australia's east coast, uprooting trees, peeling roofs off homes and smashing windows as residents ran for cover.

One man was killed and at least 27 people were injured as a wild storm lashed Australia's east coast, uprooting trees, peeling roofs off homes and smashing windows as residents ran for cover.

It was the third major storm to hit eastern Australia in the past 10 days, each one causing extensive property damage. Some of the areas hardest hit by the latest storm yesterday were declared natural disaster areas.

A 22-year-old man was killed in the Queensland state capital, Brisbane, when he touched a power cable torn down by high winds. About 60,000 homes were blacked out by the storm as it ripped through Brisbane.

Worst hit was the isolated coastal town of Casino, about 370 miles north of Sydney, where gusts up to 60 mph, left a trail of destruction in their wake.

Police Inspector David Driver said many buildings in the small town, including the police station and local electricity station, were extensively damaged.

Among the injured, seven people were hurt at a trailer park in Iluka, south of Casino, emergency services said. And an 80-year-old woman was in satisfactory condition after being injured by flying debris.

Casino bar owner Murray Slee said at the height of the storm the wind was so strong that rain was blown away before it could hit the ground.

"The storm was coming right through the main street here and at the peak of it the rain wasn't even hitting the ground, the wind was so strong it was just horizontal to the ground, you couldn't see across the road," he told television's Channel Seven.

"It was quite horrific at one stage," he added.

Flooding was also reported in parts of Sydney, where emergency services were still cleaning up from a storm that hit Monday night, ripping up trees, bringing down power lines and cutting power to more than 80,000 homes.

New South Wales state Emergency Services Minister Bob Debus, who visited areas in his state hit by the storm, said the natural disaster declaration meant individuals, businesses and local councils could apply for state financial assistance.

Debus said the storm caused millions of Australian dollars in damages, but he had no specific figures, It would take emergency crews several days to clear up the damage, he said.

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