Melbourne (AFP) – The giant wave that smashed through Australia’s capital, Melbourne, on Sunday is being called “the largest in history” by local media, but local government officials say the pictures don’t tell the whole story.
Key points:More than 600 people were rescued after the wave hit Melbourne’s waterfrontA man is believed to have died and another has been rescuedThe National Surf Life Saving Authority said about 20 people were trapped by the surgeThe wave was estimated to be 10 metres (33 feet) highThe storm dumped about 300mm (6.7 inches) of rain, which is enough to fill three Olympic swimming pools, but locals say the wave was huge.
“There’s a lot of people who were out there who weren’t even looking at the surf coming, just going straight at you,” said Peter Taylor, who was surfing near his home on Swanston Street.
“It was just huge.”
The wave smashed through the CBD on Sunday morning, ripping through several shops, a petrol station and the office of a prominent businessman in a matter of seconds.
Witnesses say the water was so deep it could be seen on the surface, while others said they saw a man in the water with a dead body floating nearby.
“I was watching the water go by, and I saw the man’s body, the body floating, and then the wave just went,” said John Withers, who said he was watching a wave on Swanwick Street at about 6am.
“He had two or three other people on top of him, and it went pretty quick.”
Witnesses told of a man who was dragged into the water after the surge.
“The water went into his head,” he said.
“All the people that were in the shop and around the office, they were screaming, ‘He’s dead!'”‘
It was really loud’Witnesses said the waves were very strong.
“People were yelling, ‘Help, help, he’s got blood all over him’,” said one man.
“Some of them were swimming in the pool, it was really, really loud.”
Victoria’s Maritime and Ocean Safety Agency (MASSA) said more than 600 were rescued, with more than 20 people reported missing.
“These massive waves have caused significant damage to structures in Victoria and the surrounding area and are a major concern,” the agency said in a statement.
“We are working closely with local authorities to assist with the recovery of those that have been affected.”
The agency said there was no immediate threat to the lives of the victims.
“While we are grateful for the quick response of the emergency services, there is a risk of additional loss of life and significant damage and disruption to public infrastructure in Victoria,” the statement said.
A spokesperson for Melbourne Mayor Lisa Scaffidi said the city was “working hard to support the victims and their families”.
“Our priority remains to support as many people as possible during this time,” the spokesperson said.
Topics:weather,hurricane-disaster,melbourne-3000,vic,united-statesFirst posted February 21, 2019 19:04:54Contact Paul Tully