Two people have died after torrential rain sparked dangerous flash flooding along Australia’s east coast.
More than 40,000 people have been forced to flee their homes as the wild weather submerged buildings, swept away livestock and cut off entire towns.
Authorities said they were trying to contact the family of a man whose body was found by emergency services in a car under six metres of water in Sydney’s northwest.
Police said he had been driving a brand new vehicle on the first day of a new job and was unfamiliar with the rural area.
The reason he could not get out of the car is being investigated.
New South Wales Police Detective Inspector, Chris Laird, said: “It could very well be that the electrics totally failed and he was simply unable to escape from the car, which is an absolute tragedy.”
Reports said police had found a second body in an upturned utility vehicle in floodwaters in Queensland state.
There were warnings that water levels in New South Wales, the worst-hit state, would continue to rise in some areas as major dams overflowed and rivers bulged.
Gladys Berejiklian, the premier of New South Wales, said: “Catchments will continue to experience flows of water not seen in 50 years and, in some places, 100 years.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison took a flight over the region of the Hawkesbury River near Sydney to survey the damage.
He said: “The expanse of water that went right across that region was quite devastating to see.”
Forecasters said the weather system which brought the torrential rain will shift to the island state of Tasmania on Wednesday, bringing downpours and flooding.
Reporter David Richardson, who has lived in Sydney for more than 30 years, reveals here how the floods have left people heartbroken.
When Mel Steer and her partner Blake Lepaglier returned to their home in Windsor, Sydney, their hearts broke.
Far from receding, the water had risen more than a foot overnight. It had invaded areas inside their home previously untouched.
It was all too much and Mel broke down in tears, lamenting their losses after all their hard work and love they had poured into their precious first home.
Next door, British landscaper Paul Luckman watched as the water rose to just below his windows.
His house is double brick, but the keen Liverpool supporter knew the overnight increases in water height meant yet more damage.
Mel, Blake and their neighbour Paul are the human faces of this flood disaster – but there is an added tragedy. Living so close to a river, none of the residents in this small street are insured.