SEARCH and rescue teams have suspended efforts to locate one man missing in huge swells at Bondi Beach and two others believed lost in floodwaters in Tasmania. A swimmer is believed to have jumped into huge swells near Icebergs at the southern end of Bondi shortly before 3pm.
“He just jumped in when the waves were going out and when the waves came in again he went under and couldn’t keep up,” a witness said.
Search and rescue teams will continue the search at first light, according to NSW Police.
Officers from the Eastern Suburbs LAC attended, alongside surf lifesavers and a jet ski. The Westpac rescue helicopter was called to the scene but diverted to Botany Bay shortly before 5pm to assist in the rescue of a kite surfer in distress.
“Due to fading light, the search was suspected about 5.30pm, and will resume at first light (on Tuesday),” police said in a statement.
In Tasmania, where the state is recording record floods, search and rescue teams were looking for an elderly man and an elderly woman missing in separate locations. Those searches have also been suspended.
Authorities said a man in his 80s was swept away by floodwaters near his Ouse property about 8am.
“Significant resources were used today in an attempt to locate the missing man, but our efforts have been hampered by the conditions and the flood waters,” Tasmania Police Inspector Matthew McCreadie said.
The search will resume at first light on Tuesday.
Flood waters in Latrobe have also prevented emergency services from looking for a woman in her 70s, whose home was inundated by water earlier on Monday morning.
The death toll from the weekend’s storm stands at three after two bodies were found in cars in separate incidents in southwest Sydney and the Southern Highlands and another died after powerful waters flipped his two-tonne ute in Canberra.
Police confirmed the body of a 65-year-old man was found around 8.30am this morning in a vehicle in Mittagong Creek near Bowral after he was reported missing on Sunday.
The body of another man has been found in a ute at Leppington, near Camden in Sydney’s southwest.
About 5pm Sunday, emergency services were called to Anthony Road, Leppington, after receiving information of a white utility entering a causeway and being washed away.
Police searched the flood affected area, with the assistance of the State Emergency Services, without success.
The search resumed at 6.30am today and police located the body of a man in a vehicle. Police divers retrieved the body about 11.30am.
Emergency crews are currently searching for another person who was reportedly swept away.
NSW Premier Mike Baird acknowledged the deaths and urged people to stay safe as storm damage continues.
“This morning we come with a heavy heart, because this storm, which so-so ferocious, has taken life from us,” he said from Collaroy where more than 700 homes had been evacuated.
Mr Baird thanked the “army of angels” carrying out rescues, including 1500 emergency volunteers on duty as well as police and fire services.
“My encouragement to everyone is to listen to take advice from emergency service workers, from the SES, take advice in relation to roads and transport,” he said.
“There is a clear request and that is where there are flood waters please to not enter those floodwaters, they are a huge risk.”
In the ACT, the body of a man stuck in his car in floodwaters was found in the Cotter River near Canberra earlier this morning.
The 37-year-old man from Kanbar in Canberra’s south was discovered by police inside his four-wheel-drive vehicle, stuck in the middle of raging floodwaters.
Officers had been called to the Cotter district where they located and successfully rescued two young men. During that operation, they discovered the vehicle with a man inside, but he was quickly swept away and disappeared from view.
Police were joined by fire and rescue and SES crews to attempt to locate the man, eventually locating what they believed to be a body stuck in raging floodwaters on an island in the middle of the river.
“Police and emergency services worked on a plan together to try to retrieve the deceased,” a police spokesman said.
“It was not safe to do so last night and police maintained a presence there all night. This morning, ACT emergency services and ACT policing resources reconvened at the scene and have retrieved the body of a 37-year-old male.”
Police said the reason why the man and his vehicle were in the middle of the river “will be subject to a full police investigation”. Police said the death was “an absolute tragedy”.
ACT Emergency Services chief officer Conrad Barr said it was important to remember not to drive through floodwaters.
“Look, any flood-related death is something we don’t want to deal with,” he told media in Canberra.
“It’s far safer and better not to try to drive through floodwater than to impose the risks with a tricky rescue on our dedicates professionals and all of the emergency services in the ACT.”
Canberra received about 100mm of rain over the past two days.
In Tasmania, police hold grave fears for the safety of two elderly people affected by separate flooding incidents.
The effects of the weekend’s monster storm are still being felt across the east coast as the damaging east coast low makes its way down the coastline.
Roads resemble rivers, traffic and public transport is expected to be thrown into chaos, and the weather system that caused it all will continue to cause damage further down the coastline.
Heavy rain is predicted to continue across central and southern parts of the state as the monster east coast low that lashed Queensland and NSW over the weekend heads south towards Tasmania.
Rivers are expected to rise throughout the day in areas around Sydney, and are having a major impact on traffic and public transport in western Sydney.
The SES has had about 9000 requests for assistance, and still haven’t been able to attend about 3000 of those.
Acting SES Commissioner Greg Newton said at the height of the wild weather, the major problem was homes being flooded.
But high winds have brought down trees and caused structural damage to properties.
“We have got quite a bit of work to do in towns like Picton where there was about a metre of water through that town just on dusk yesterday where we had the high number of flood rescues,” he told the Seven Network on Monday.
On Sunday about 70mm to 90mm of rain fell across Sydney.
The storm has cleared Sydney but will smash the state’s south coast for another day, dumping another 100mm on the already-soaked region, before moving south towards Tasmania.
The Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers in outer Sydney remain on flood watch.
Normal services have resumed on the Many ferry, but it’s a different story for those crossing the Parramatta River and those further north.
Trains between Martin Place and Bondi Junction have resumed after a huge tree caught in overhead wiring over train lines at Edgecliff saw the line partially closed for most of the morning.
Evacuation order remain in place in Lismore on the NSW North Coast and Chipping Norton in Sydney’s southwest.