Roads have been flooded, homes engulfed and people have been able to kayak through the streets after record-breaking heavy rain hit parts of Australia.
The country’s east coast was hit by deluges on Saturday, forcing pleas from authorities for people in New South Wales’ capital Sydney to stay at home amid the potentially life-threatening flash floods.
Most of the coast of the state, which is home to about a third of Australia’s 25 million people, has already seen record rainfall for March with downpours predicted to carry on until Thursday or Friday.
Meanwhile, officials issued nine evacuation orders for 15 areas.
Forecasters say the flooding is down to amount of rain that has fallen in such a short time.
Agata Imielska, a senior climatologist with the Bureau of Meteorology, said: “It’s not just the total rainfall amount, it’s also how quickly and intensely that rainfall has actually fallen.
“So today (we) are just really urging the community out there that this is the day to exercise that powerful protective action of staying home and staying safe.”
More than 4,000 calls for help have been made to emergency services in the past two days, with several hundred asking to be rescued from flooding.
A mini-tornado ripped through a suburb in the west of Sydney, damaging more than 30 homes and cutting power, emergency services said.
Sydney is expected to get around 100mm (4ins) of rain over the weekend, the lower Blue Mountains range should receive 200-300mm (8ins to 12ins) and gusts of wind of between 50mph and 60mph are also expected.
In recent years, climate change has been cited as a likely reason for a growing number of extreme weather events hitting the country.