Tens of thousands of Australians were stranded by floodwaters on Saturday after the remnants of a powerful cyclone swept along the country’s east coast, cutting roads, destroying bridges and killing two people. The disaster zone from ex-Cyclone Debbie stretched 1,000 km (600 miles) from Queensland state’s tropical resort islands and Gold Coast tourist strip to the farmlands of New South Wales state, with more than 100,00 homes without power.
Six large rivers had hit major flood levels and were still rising in several areas, said the Bureau of Meteorology. Flood sirens sounded in several towns, prompting stranded residents to climb onto roofs of flooded homes to await rescue, but fast-moving water and high winds hindered emergency crews reaching several areas.
Police said they recovered the bodies of two women from floodwaters late on Friday, the first reported deaths since Cyclone Debbie hit on Tuesday. One was found on a swamped property and the other retrieved by police divers from a car that had been swept off a flooded bridge.