Australia floods: thousands forced to evacuate from Sydney suburbs

Authorities in the Australian city of Sydney on Sunday ordered thousands of people to evacuate their homes after torrential rain hit the suburbs.

Roads have been blocked and at least 18 evacuation orders are in effect in the west of the city, an area hit by severe flooding in March.

“This is a life-threatening emergency,” said Stephanie Cooke, the emergency services minister in New South Wales, whose capital is Sydney.

Australia is particularly hard hit by climate change, with frequent droughts, devastating bushfires and repeated and increasingly severe flooding.

With more bad weather expected in the coming days, Ms Cooke described a “rapidly evolving situation” and warned that people urgently need to “be prepared to evacuate”.

The Warragamba dam began flooding early Sunday morning, she said, well ahead of authorities’ predictions.

In Camden, a suburb southwest of Sydney where more than 100,000 people live, shops and a gas station were already flooded.

Emergency services rescued 29 people and were called more than 1,400 times in the past 24 hours.

In March, flooding caused by severe storms devastated western Sydney, killing 20 people.

As the world warms, the atmosphere contains more water vapor, increasing the risk of flooding and heavy rainfall, scientists say. This rainfall, in combination with other factors such as spatial planning, can lead to flooding.