Storms knock out power to 174,000 homes in Australia

Storms knock out power to 174,000 homes in Australia
Storms knock out power to 174,000 homes in Australia

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - This frame grab from video footage taken on February 13, 2024 and provided by Australian Broadcast Corporation (ABC) on February 14 via AFPTV shows downed powerlines near Lara after a storm. — ABC / AFP pic

MELBOURNE, Feb 14 — Storms packing powerful winds toppled trees, killed one person and knocked out power to 174,000 homes and businesses in eastern Australia, officials said today.

The wild weather hit large swathes of Victoria yesterday, dumping torrents of rain and unleashing gusts of more than 150 kilometres per hour (90 miles per hour), the state government and emergency services said.

A 50-year-old dairy farmer was killed in the storm, apparently struck by flying debris while working on a roof, Victoria police said in a statement.

The winds also fanned bushfires in the Grampians region west of Melbourne, burning an unknown number of homes in one small town, the state’s Country Fire Authority said.

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At its peak, 530,000 homes and businesses lost power, the Australian Energy Market Operator said in an update.

About 174,000 were still cut off this afternoon, it said.

“Given the extent of the widespread damage, it may take days if not weeks to restore electricity to all of those impacted,” the authority said.

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The winds tore off roofs, uprooted trees and flattened electricity pylons, according to media reports and images shared on social media.

Fallen transmission towers led to the shutdown of Victoria’s largest electricity generator, the coal-powered Loy Yang A, which is now being reconnected to the grid, the state’s energy authority said in a statement.

“This has been one of the largest outage events in the state’s history,” Victoria Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.

Lightning strikes ignited “multiple fires” in Victoria, said the state’s emergency management commissioner, Rick Nugent.

In the hard-hit Grampians region, flames incinerated “a number of residential homes” in Pomonal, home to a few hundred residents, Nugent told a news briefing.

It was too early to say how many homes were destroyed, state firefighters said, though a report in Melbourne’s The Age newspaper said about 20 had been lost.

Victorian authorities said they were working to restore power and ascertain the full extent of fire damage as bushfire and weather warnings were lowered across the state. — AFP

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