Rising river levels prompt evacuation orders

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australian emergency services on Sunday issued flood evacuation orders for neighborhoods in Sydney and beyond as river levels climbed after days of heavy rain.

Officials reported 28 flood rescues over 24 hours in the eastern state of New South Wales, many of them for people who had tried to drive through inundated roads.

“It is very dangerous out there on our roads and we are seeing a lot of flash flooding and obviously the rivers are still rising,” NSW State Emergency Service commissioner Carlene York told a news conference.

A dozen flood evacuation orders were in place for low-lying neighborhoods on the northwestern fringes of Sydney and other parts of New South Wales, the emergency service said.

It also issued warnings for about 20 other at-risk areas of the state to prepare to evacuate or be ready to isolate as rivers rise.

The rainfall has eased but flood waters are still feeding into swollen rivers both inland and in central parts of the New South Wales coast, the state’s bureau of meteorology said.

The city of Sydney has already registered its wettest year since records began in 1858.

A flooding catastrophe on Australia’s east coast in March — caused by heavy storms that devastated parts of Queensland and New South Wales — claimed more than 20 lives.

Tens of thousands of Sydney residents were ordered to evacuate in July when floods again swamped outlying suburbs.

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