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Floods & road closures in Australia as storms lash some bushfire-hit regions

Parts of Australia’s east coast were hit by severe storms on Saturday, dousing some of the bushfires that have devastated the region for months but causing road closures and flash flooding.

Fears of smoke from the fires disrupting the Australian Open tennis receded in Melbourne, where the main tournament was due to start on Monday.

Despite the heavy rain, authorities were still battling nearly 100 blazes — part of the bushfires that have killed 29 people since September, destroyed more than 2,500 homes and scorched an area nearly one-third the size of Germany.

Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, three of the states most hit by drought and bushfires, are now dealing with rain bucketing down in several areas.

Major highways were closed in Queensland on Saturday, with the state getting some of the heaviest rain Australia has seen for months, while power was cut in parts of New South Wales after a stormy night.

Parts of Queensland’s south saw triple the monthly rainfall overnight. No major damage has been reported, although some residential areas were flooded and many of the state’s parks and tourist attractions were closed.

New South Wales fire services welcomed the rain, which they said on Twitter would help to control the 75 fires burning in the state, of which 25 are yet to be contained. But, they also said that some firegrounds have not seen any rain yet.

More benign storms were forecast for Victoria over the weekend, which has been hit this week already by severe storms and unhealthy smoke from the bushfires.

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Source: Reuters

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