Four dead, three missing in Australia storms

Sydney, June 7 (IANS) At least four people have died and three remain missing due to the massive storm that hit Australia’s east coast.

The waves and a massive king tide have eroded 50 metres of beach along a key stretch of Sydney’s Northern Beaches, according to the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) Water Research Laboratory, risking a number of multi-million dollar waterfront properties falling into the sea.

While most of the damage occurred on Saturday and Sunday nights, Australia’s weather bureau has forecast another “king tide” on Tuesday night, potentially causing more erosion to the coastline as wave heights continue to remain high, Xinhua reported.

“The threat of coastal erosion continues to ease as wave heights gradually reduce along the coast. There remains a low-level threat of some residual erosion, given the forecast tides being at or near the highest of the year,” Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said.

Local residents were anxious as the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) said on Tuesday that those properties were unlikely to be insured given most policies do not cover “actions of the sea” which include king tides and coastal erosion.

At least 93 per cent of all new home insurance policies purchased in Australia include cover for flooding (under the standard definition), but neither actions of the sea nor the effects of gradual sea level rise are considered to be flooding for insurance purposes, ICA spokesman Campbell Fuller said.

The ICA said insurers have received more than 11,150 claims worth an estimated 38 million Australian dollars from the storms, however it’s expected that the figure will rise over the coming days.

Many residents and government authorities have known the present situation on Sydney’s northern beaches may rise as the area is the most “at-risk” to coastal erosion along the New South Wales state coast, leading coastal management experts have told the media.

“It has been a risk for more than 100 years and essentially nothing has been done,” University of Sydney professor of geoscience Andrew Short said.

Though the number east coast lows that caused the damage along Australia’s east coast are expected to fall by 25 per cent due to human-induced climate change, the intensity of the storms, and resulting damage, however will rise, climate experts have said.



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