Police continue to search for a missing boater in the swollen Brisbane River as severe weather warnings cover nearly 1,000km of the NSW and Queensland coast and the death toll from severe flooding rises at seven o ‘clock.
The lone sailor, 70, fell overboard from his vessel near the mouth of Breakfast Creek around 4.45pm on Saturday.
Three water police vessels searched for him until nightfall, but their efforts were suspended due to dangerous weather conditions and debris in the river.
The search resumed at first light on Sunday, involving water police vessels, general duty officers, coast guard personnel and volunteers.
Meanwhile, severe weather warnings are in place from Bundaberg in the Wide Bay-Burnett region of Queensland to Port Macquarie on the New South Wales north coast.
A “completely unpredictable” extreme rain event killed six people in the northern state, and hundreds were evacuated.
On Sunday night, a man died in the Brisbane suburb of Indooroopilly when his car was submerged. The 34-year-old attempted to swim to safety but witnesses raised the alarm when he failed to surface.
On Saturday, police divers found the body of a 37-year-old man in flood waters near Gympie, north of the Sunshine Coast, while that of a 54-year-old man was discovered at Stones Corner , in the center of Brisbane.
An SES volunteer was also killed when a car she was in was swept away en route to a rescue near Ipswich on Friday night.
The deaths follow those of a 54-year-old man killed trying to ride a motorbike through rising waters in Gympie last week and a 63-year-old man found dead in a submerged car on the Sunshine Coast.
In New South Wales, a man died Friday morning on the Central Coast after his LandCruiser was swept away by floodwaters.
Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Steve Gollschewski urged people not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary.
In Gympie, 700 people along the swollen Mary River – which is expected to rise above its highest level in 23 years in the next 24 hours – began to evacuate, while supplies were delivered to an indigenous community in Cherbourg in proximity that should be cut off by flood waters.
Heavy rain and potential flash flooding is forecast from Kingaroy to the NSW border on Sunday and intense falls are forecast for an area encompassing Hervey Bay, Yarraman, Toowoomba and Ipswich.
There is major flooding in Tewantin near Noosa and Picnic Point and Dunethin Rock on the Sunshine Coast, while flood warnings are in place for several waterways.
Brisbane Mayor Adrian Schrinner issued a warning for 16 suburbs along the Brisbane River on Saturday evening, saying “several thousand properties” could be flooded.
Water is released from Brisbane’s Wivenhoe Dam. Moogerah Dam, inland from the Gold Coast, also spills, as does Atkinson Dam.
In New South Wales, a severe weather warning for Sunday stretches 450km from the Queensland border to Port Macquarie.
There is a risk of “life-threatening flash flooding, particularly on Sunday afternoon and evening” in the North Rivers and North Central Coast, in areas such as Lismore, Grafton, Coffs Harbor and Dorrigo, a said Gabrielle Woodhouse, senior meteorologist for the Bureau of Meteorology. .
On Sunday and Monday, northern rivers and the central north coast are expected to see “high total and widespread rainfall” exceeding 100mm, she said.
Late on Saturday, the Insurance Council of Australia declared an insurance disaster for southeast Queensland, with claims and assessment teams to start helping households as soon as it is safe to do so.
The Federal Government said disaster aid had been activated for 10 local councils in South East Queensland.
Australian Associated Press