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8 killed, 1 missing in wild thunderstorms on Australia’s southeast coast

Sydney, Dec 27 At least eight people have lost their lives in Australia, with one still missing, as wild thunderstorms ripped through the country’s southeast coast during Christmas and Boxing Day.

In Queensland, the death toll rose to six following the conclusion of a large-scale search and rescue operation on Wednesday in the Moreton Bay area, Xinhua news agency reported.

“At 5:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon, Boxing Day, a huge storm came over Moreton Bay near Green Island just off Wellington Point. A 39-foot motorized yacht has capsized during the storm,” state police’s Acting Chief Superintendent Andrew Pilotto said in an update on a “horrific” and “tragic” boating event.

Eleven adult males were on board for an annual fishing trip, he said.

Eight of them were transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Over the last 18 hours, three people have been recovered deceased from the waters from the incident.

He also noted that the wind blew at over 100 km an hour, which “for Moreton Bay is horrific”.

In a separate press conference, Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll released information about another incident in Gympie’s river area where three women were swept away in floodwaters.

She confirmed that one has survived, while one was found deceased and one is still missing.

“In addition to that, a nine-year-old girl has been reported missing in the Rochdale South area as well and also was located deceased overnight,” Carroll added.

On Monday, a woman in her 50s was killed by a falling tree at the Gold Coast.

In the state of Victoria, severe thunderstorm and flood warnings were issued during the holiday period, with two deaths having already been reported.

Emergency services were called to Caves Road in Buchan after 5:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday after reports of flash flooding. Search operation started after the flood waters receded, and police found a woman dead at the scene.

On Tuesday morning, a tree branch fell at a private property on Rusks Road, Caringal, killing a 44-year-old man on the scene.

Despite easing signs of winds, hail and rainfall, several flood alerts are still in place for parts of Queensland and Victoria.

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, a couple of areas need to watch out for severe storms possible on Wednesday, primarily around the border between Victoria and New South Wales, as well as in central and northern parts of the Queensland coast.

“By Wednesday afternoon, we’re starting to see the end in sight for this thunderstorm outbreak,” said the bureau Senior Meteorologist Angus Hines.

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