Six dead, three missing in severe Christmas thunderstorms across Australia

Australian police said at least six people were killed and three others missing after severe thunderstorms battered Australia’s eastern states over the Christmas holidays, with tens of thousands of households without power in Queensland.

Victoria and Queensland Police confirmed the deaths of six people, the youngest a nine-year-old girl who local media reported was swept away in a flooded storm water drain.

Police continued their search for two people missing after the boat they were on capsized just south of Green Island near Brisbane. They are also looking for a 46-year-old woman who was caught in flood waters north of Brisbane in Gympie.

“It’s absolutely tragic news for families in this region at Christmas time,” Gympie Mayor Glen Hartwig told ABC news.

Severe thunderstorms hit the eastern states on Dec. 25 and Dec. 26 bringing large hailstones, high winds and torrential rains. Rivers flooded and high winds blew off roofs and brought down trees in some of the worst-affected areas.

The Bureau of Meteorology still has some minor flood warnings in place in the eastern states and further rain is forecast.

Queenland’s state-owned Energex said on Wednesday that around 86,000 households remained without electricity following the storms. It said in a post on messaging platform X, previously known as Twitter, it had sustained severe damage to its network with more that 800 power lines down, and expected it to take days to restore power to some people.

The storms come after former Tropical Cyclone Jasper made landfall earlier this month causing flooding and widespread damage in Queensland.

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