Australia news live updates: flood-hit Sydney residents evacuate as wild weather brings more heavy rain; Albanese in Ukraine

The congestion at Sydney Airport appears to not have improved since the weekend…

PSA: @SydneyAirport is currently a labyrinthine, intestinal hell, with queues I haven’t seen outside of major Asian airports during a crisis.

Plan accordingly!

— Benjamin Law 羅旭能 (@mrbenjaminlaw) July 3, 2022

My colleague Peter Hannam has been collating some flood and rainfall data over on Twitter.

One of the keys to the flooding though will be how much water is spill from Warragamba dam. Fortunately it appears to be past its peak for now at least. (@BOM_au data): pic.twitter.com/UC9NdMEbVM

— Peter Hannam (@p_hannam) July 3, 2022

Christopher Knaus

Up to 100mm rain expected to hit Sydney and the Illawarra this morning

The flood event is far from over. Up to 100mm rain could hit Sydney and the Illawarra this morning, before conditions ease into the afternoon and evening. Almost 70 evacuation orders are in place, many in western Sydney and many issued in the early hours of Monday morning, and the SES is urging residents to avoid travel and reconsider school holiday plans. But in more welcome news, the Bureau of Meteorology says the east coast low that is behind the widespread and sustained heavy rain is weakening. In a statement issued just before 5am, it said:

The east coast low has weakened into a trough over the Hunter district. Onshore flow south of the trough is still directing humid air onshore, causing moderate to at times heavy rainfall in areas near and to the south of the trough.

Drier air will push gradually northwards up the New South Wales coast through the afternoon, clearing most of the rain out of the Illawarra, Blue Mountains and Sydney regions by late this evening.

The bureau said that although rain rates have eased, heavy rainfall could still cause flash flooding in the Illawarra, Blue Mountains, Sydney Metropolitan, and parts of Hunter (including Central Coast) districts.

Heavy rainfall is possible over the Sydney metropolitan and Illawarra districts this morning before starting to ease during the afternoon and evening.

Six-hourly rainfall totals between 60 to 100mm are possible.

People downstream from Wiseman’s Ferry urged to evacuate

Those in the low-lying areas of the Lower Hawkesbury downstream from Wiseman’s Ferry are ordered to evacuate by 10am today, per the SES:

20 people rescued from flood water overnight in NSW

Christopher Knaus

Christopher Knaus

Emergency services rescued 20 people from rising flood waters across New South Wales overnight as the state braces for another day of heavy rain and wild weather.

Most of those rescues involved helping people who had driven into flood waters, something the SES described as “very unfortunate”.

Other residents were leaving it too late to evacuate, the SES said, and becoming stranded in their homes by rapidly rising rivers or floodwaters.

Vision released early Monday morning showed SES officers wading through fast-moving waters and scaling roofs in the dark to help affected residents.

Ashley Sullivan, SES deputy state duty commander, said his volunteers had responded to almost 3,500 requests for assistance since the flood event began. About 400 of those requests for assistance were made on Sunday night alone.

Sullivan reiterated a plea for residents to consider their movements and stay at home.

I understand it’s school holidays, but really have a look at your travel plans, if you do have any. If you don’t need to leave home, please, you know, bunker down at home if it’s safe to do so. Obviously, we’ve issued about 70 evacuation orders, mostly in the Hawkesbury-Nepean area.

Thousands evacuate as Sydney rivers rise

Here’s more from NSW SES’s Ashley Sullivan from earlier this morning, per AAP.

He says even if the rain eases this week, as predicted, rivers will continue to rise because the ground is already saturated from the last flood emergency.

Speaking to Nine this morning, he said:

We are seeing these rivers rise much faster than what’s been predicted. Much faster than what we expected.

Things are happening quicker. The risk … has increased significantly.

The SES is asking people to promptly heed evacuation orders and refrain from driving into flood waters.

If you leave it too late, it becomes a rescue and our emergency service partners and the SES have to come and rescue you. We want to avoid that.

We’re still pulling people out of cars, we’re attending a lot of properties where people left it too late.

Numerous evacuation centres have been set up across western Sydney.

You will be looked after. Head to the evacuation centre. Play it safe.

Albanese commits more than $100m to Ukraine following secret trip to Kyiv

Josh Butler

Australia will send more than $100m in new aid to Ukraine including military equipment, as well as levelling sanctions on 16 new Russian officials, following prime minister Anthony Albanese’s secret trip to Kyiv.

Albanese tacked on a day visit to Ukraine at the end of his European trip for the Nato summit, where he met the country’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy and toured parts of the country devastated by Russia’s aggression.

The PM said in a statement following his trip:

Russia’s brutal invasion is a gross violation of international law. I saw first-hand the devastation and trauma it has inflicted on the people of Ukraine …

My visit to Kyiv and recent visits by other world leaders sends a clear message that democratic nations like Australia will stand side by side with the Ukrainian people in their time of need.

The Australian government had kept the trip under tight wraps for security purposes, with only a small pool of journalists allowed to travel with him to Ukraine, and a media blackout imposed on Australian media until he had left the country. However, international media and Ukrainian officials reported details of the trip earlier, ahead of Albanese’s office releasing a statement around 6.30am AEST on Monday.

Russian attacks on Irpin are war crimes, says Australian prime minister – video

In his statement, Albanese committed $99.5m in military assistance, including 14 armoured personnel carriers, 20 Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles and other military equipment; a contribution to Nato’s Ukraine Comprehensive Assistance Package Trust Fund; and $8.7m to assist Ukraine’s Border Guard Service to upgrade border management equipment, cybersecurity and border operations in the field.

Australia will impose new financial sanctions and travel bans on 16 further Russian ministers and oligarchs, as well as plan to will intervene at the international court of justice in support of Ukraine in its case against Russia.

The government will also allow duty-free access to Australia for Ukrainian imports, and prohibit the import of Russian gold.

Albanese said the new contributions bring Australia’s total military assistance to Ukraine to approximately A$388m:

I sincerely thank President Zelenskyy, the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Australian Defence Force for ensuring the safety of my visit.

President Zelenskyy’s leadership has rallied the Ukrainian people to defend their country and inspired the world to support humanity and freedom. The road ahead is hard but I am confident Ukraine will prevail.

The mayor of Hawkesbury, Patrick Conolly, also spoke briefly on ABC Sydney.

I’m actually standing here at Windsor Bridge right now. They’re predicting a peak here of 13.3 metres, which places it slightly lower than March 22, but higher than March 21, but overall, a very similar event…

So much damage from March and April hadn’t been repaired yet. Or people are just started repairs just to have [them washed] out again now.

La Niña likely to continue into next summer

Watt is also pretty straight up in connecting the repeated floods with climate crisis – a relief, in some ways, to have politicians acknowledge the bleeding obvious, even just for discourse on this stuff:

It had been a very worrying pattern, and we’re reading even this morning in the papers but La Niña is likely to continue this year, and we could be facing another very wet summer …

You know, the elephant in the room here is climate change. And you know, for all those people who’ve been denying that it’s happening, it’s right here now, it’s right before our eyes and that’s, again, why we’ve got to take serious action about climate change, to make sure that we can reduce the impact of events in the future.

Watt says there’s been “very good cooperation between state and federal agencies” so far:

I want to commend them for the proactive approach that they’ve taken in making sure that we do have resources on the ground at an early stage. I think we saw over the last couple of years frankly, the federal government in particular was quite slow to respond and sometimes things got bogged down in disputes between the federal government and the state government.

What we have done this time is try to get involved at an early stage in discussions with the New South Wales government to sort of try to preempt what might be needed so that and then get the paperwork moving. You know, we’ve made sure that the approvals have happened very quickly. Because the last thing we want to be doing is scrambling after the event to send resources in when it’s all to like, we’ve seen that happen in the past, and we want to avoid that going forward.

A children’s play area is inundated by flood waters in Camden in south-western Sydney on Sunday.
A children’s play area is inundated by flood waters in Camden in south-western Sydney on Sunday. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Murray Watt, minister for emergency management, is speaking on ABC Sydney. The federal government has made another 100 ADF troops and another couple of helicopters available overnight to assist with the NSW floods. They haven’t been used yet, as far as he know, which he hopes “is a good sign”:

The major reason they were deployed was that while the New South Wales Government has a number of aircraft at its disposal, they don’t have nighttime capability. And the army helicopters obviously can be performing nighttime rescues and things like that. So I think it would probably be a good sign if they haven’t been used, but we’re waiting for an update on that myself.

SES focusing efforts on Hawkesbury-Nepean area

Ashley Sullivan, duty commander for the New South Wales SES, has just been speaking on ABC News Breakfast. He says they are focusing predominantly on the Hawkesbury-Nepean area, but there are warnings in place in the Blue Mountains and out to Bathurst, Wellington, the Hunter Valley, Central Coast.

Sullivan:

There’s all warnings, weather warnings or flood warnings current for those communities. Hawkesbury-Nepean is certainly a concern of ours, particularly with the weather predicted in the next 24 to 48 hours. If that rainfall does event out, that’s a real concern for the New South Wales SES. We are preparing. We’re mobilising as many emergency services as we can. We’ve got ADF in support. Our new capabilities in high-clearance vehicles are out there supporting our communities and keeping our own. We do ask those communities to really consider that travel. Prepare your home emergency plan, evacuate if you need to. Seek support of friends and emergency services if required.

Good morning

Thousands of people have been evacuated in greater Sydney and more than 130 rescues have taken place in the past 24 hours as an east coast low, which is expected to persist until Tuesday, brought widespread rainfall, thunderstorms and flash flooding across the state.

More than 60 evacuation orders are in place in the city. The Bureau of Meteorology says the heavy rain may lead to flash flooding in the Illawarra, Blue Mountains, Sydney metropolitan and parts of Hunter and Central Coast districts today.

Meanwhile the prime minister Anthony Albanese has visited Ukraine and pledged to increase Australia’s aid to the worn-torn country in a meeting with president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

We’re going to jump straight into it this morning. I’m Stephanie Convery and I’ll be with you until lunchtime today.

If you see something that you reckon ought to be in here, you can catch me by email at stephanie.convery@theguardian.com or on Twitter at @gingerandhoney.



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