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Rising waters again force evacuations in Australia


Two people have been killed, hundreds of homes inundated and thousands told to evacuate as flooding again battered Australia’s southeast coast.

It comes as the country is still reeling from previous disasters, in a year that has seen record-breaking rainfall and relentless flooding, with some communities inundated multiple times.

The states of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania have experienced flash flooding over the past week as torrential rain fell onto already saturated land, causing rivers to swell and overflow. Because of those conditions, flooding will continue to remain a risk for weeks, with even moderate rainfall posing a threat, authorities said.

In many areas, the water is expected to continue to rise in the days ahead.

The state of Victoria is bearing the brunt of the disaster, with its premier, Daniel Andrews, calling it a “very, very significant flood event.”

About 500 homes in Victoria had been flooded and another 500 isolated by floodwater, he said, adding that those numbers were expected to increase.

David Clayton, the state’s assistant police commissioner, said Saturday that in coming days, authorities anticipated “we would see some of the largest evacuations we’ve ever seen.”

One man, 71, died in the Victoria town of Rochester, his body found in floodwaters Saturday, authorities said. Rochester is experiencing what local newspapers called the “worst floods in living memory,” and authorities said every house in the town of 3,000 would be inundated.

The body of a 46-year-old man was pulled out of a flooded car near the town of Bathurst, in New South Wales, on Tuesday.

Australia is experiencing its third consecutive year of La Niña, bringing cool, wet conditions that have filled rivers to bursting.

Scientists have said climate change is fueling more intense bouts of rain in shorter time periods, which is most likely worsening the frequency and intensity of extreme floods.

Sydney, on the east coast and the nation’s biggest city, had its wettest year on record this year. It recorded 86.6 inches of rain by Oct. 6, beating the previous record, 86.4, set in 1950.

Many parts of the east coast have been hit by flooding this year. In March, the city of Lismore in New South Wales experienced its worst flooding on record, with river levels reaching over 46 feet. Some communities in New South Wales have been flooded three or four times this year alone.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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