Australia’s flood crisis has turned deadly after two men were found dead inside vehicles in Sydney’s north-west and on the Gold Coast.
Triple Zero operators were on the phone with a man for half an hour, 25, when they lost contact with him after he made several desperate attempts to escape his vehicle on Cattai Ridge Road in Glenorie on Sydney’s northern outskirts on Wednesday.
Emergency crews arrived at the scene about 6.30am, and recovered the man’s body at 1pm after locating his submerged Toyota Camry.
The Pakistani national was on his first day of a new contracting job in a newly hired car, and investigators will probe whether the vehicle’s electronics failed.
In Queensland a desperate search for David Hornman, 38, ended when his body was found inside his ute in the Gold Coast Hinterland on Wednesday afternoon.
The 38-year-old father was last seen on Monday and had not contacted his family since heading to a job in the Tamborine area, where torrential rain caused flash flooding this week.
His ute was spotted earlier in the day in the flooded Canungra Creek.
New South Wales’ flood crisis has turned deadly after a man’s body was found in a car trapped in water in Sydney’s north-west.
In Queensland a desperate search for David Hornman, 38, ended when his body was found inside his ute in the Gold Coast Hinterland on Wednesday afternoon
Mr Hornman’s desperate wife has been active on social media since then, appealing for help from anyone who saw him.
‘He didn’t turn up to work and hasn’t been able to be reached since. His phone is turned off,’ Angela Hornman posted on Facebook on Tuesday.
‘I just have to know he’s ok. Please tell him no matter what I LOVE HIM.’
NSW Police Detective Inspector Chris Laird said the man who died at Glenorie has called Triple-Zero at 6.25am and remained on the line with the operator until about 7.
He said the roads had multiple signs and road closure warnings, yet the car was located 30 metres into flood waters and six metres under water.
There was also a padlocked gate blocking off the road, but it was submerged.
Det Insp Laird suggested the car’s electrical system may have failed.
‘We can only speculate as to why he couldn’t get out of the car and initial examination shows he made all reasonable attempts,’ he told reporters.
‘Also too, the remote location of the area, (we’ll ask) questions about what he was doing up there … he may not have known the area as locals would.’
Det Insp Laird said the 25-year-old had strong roots in western Sydney, and that his friends in Australia were devastated by the news.
Emergency crews were called to Cattai Ridge Road, near Hidden Valley Lane in Glenorie at about 6.30am on Wednesday, following reports a car was submerged in floodwaters.
The car with the man’s body inside was found in Cattai Creek (pictured) at about 1pm following a NSW Police and SES Flood Rescue search. The man has not yet been formally identified
‘From the police force, all emergency services … here is the very reason why you should not make any attempt to drive through swollen rivers,’ he said.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian expressed her condolences to the man’s family.
Emergency Services Minister David Elliott also offered his condolences, saying it would send ripples through the northwest Sydney community.
‘The human cost of these floods has been brought into sharp focus in the most tragic of circumstances and I urge communities to continue to be cautious in the face of continued and imminent threats to life,’ Mr Elliott said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese also made statements in federal parliament commemorating the 25-year-old.
Mr Morrison labelled Wednesday a ‘terribly sad day’, saying he knew the area well from childhood camping trips and empathising with the man’s family.
A police officer is seen in Glenorie after a man’s body was discovered in a car in Sydney’s north-west
He thanked NSW emergency services for their work.
‘We have seen so much over the course of the past year and more as this country has battled so many things – floods, fires, viruses, drought and now these floods again,’ Mr Morrison said on Wednesday.
‘Now this family will get this news and they will grieve.
‘Around them, activity will occur as the flood waters recede and the clean up begins, but their house will be dark and their grief will be great.’
The premier said there is still extreme danger in flood-hit areas despite the sunshine in Sydney on Wednesday.
‘Whilst the sun is out conditions remain extremely dangerous, rivers are still rising,’ she said.
Police divers are seen searching Cattai Creek on Wednesday, following reports a car was submerged in floodwaters
‘We ask everybody, especially if they are in vehicles to be extra cautious.
‘Some would suggest it is even more dangerous now as rivers continue to rise and catchments fill up with water.’
The Hills Shire Council on Wednesday said Cattai Ridge Road in Glenorie was shut due to flooding.
Treacherous rivers around flood-stricken NSW will remain swollen into the weekend but are unlikely to rise further as weather conditions ease.
Some 24,000 people in NSW are still evacuated from their homes but the torrential rain that has battered the state for the week has finally settled.
About 60,000 people have nevertheless been told by the State Emergency Service to be ready to evacuate, with major flood warnings still in place for the Macintyre, Gwydir, Clarence and Hawkesbury, Nepean and Colo rivers.
There have been 11,000 calls for help to the SES so far, and 950 flood rescues.
A police car and tape blocks the crime scene off to the community in Glenorie on Wednesday.
Police boats head out on to floodwaters to deliver basic supplies donated by Coles to stranded locals in the Windsor region on Wednesday
The Bureau of Meteorology, meanwhile, predicts there will be no major rain for at least a week, barring up to 40mm on the NSW south coast on Wednesday.
The reprieve in the weather paved the way for defence personnel and emergency service workers to get essential supplies to isolated communities, particularly North Richmond in Sydney’s northwest where floodwaters continue to rise.
It will also enable the extensive clean-up process to gradually begin.
Ms Berejiklian said the state remained in crisis despite the sunnier weather.
She says the damage inflicted on thousands of homes, businesses and infrastructure means life will be significantly disrupted for many people.
Some catchments are experiencing their highest water flows in 50 years.
‘What we are seeing before us in NSW is the unfolding of human tragedy … tens of thousands of people who will go back and never have the same experiences again,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
SES volunteers and NSW Police begin delivering food, medicine and essential items and inspecting properties inundated but floodwaters around Windsor in the north west of Sydney
The areas of continued concern include Moree in the NSW northwest, the Upper Hunter around Singleton, Grafton, parts of the Central Coast and the Hawkesbury-Nepean catchment northwest of Sydney.
BOM meteorologist Victoria Dodds said flooding won’t recede until the weekend, particularly on the ‘complicated’ Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley river system which restricts water flows at some points.
The bureau also warned of the risk of falling trees due to saturated soil.
‘River levels are still really high, we still have major flooding, it’s a very protracted flood event,’ Ms Dodds told reporters.
Rain has eased across a vast swathe of southern Queensland, but river levels are expected to remain high for a few days, despite the sunny skies.
The weather bureau says major flooding remains possible along the Macintyre, Condamine, Bulloo and Logan rivers, and Bremer River and Warrill Creek.
At Beaudesert, south of Brisbane, major flooding is continuing along the Logan River, with some residents ordered to leave on Tuesday night.
The Windsor Bridge is seen submerged under rising floodwaters along the Hawkesbury River on Thursday
State Emergency Services Minister Mark Ryan says it will be some time before there’s a comprehensive tally of flooded properties and vehicles lost to floodwaters.
He said the activation of joint federal-state disaster assistance for the hard-hit Gold Coast, Logan and Scenic Rim councils would fund the removal of tonnes of debris, and repairs to roads and other infrastructure.
The State Emergency Service says calls for help have tailed off with the rain, but there were still 530 requests for assistance in the 24 hours to 5am on Wednesday, the vast majority in the southeast corner.
While the sustained heavy rain has moved on, severe storms are possible for central and eastern Queensland on Wednesday, and parts of the far north and northeast tropics on Thursday.