Australia’s emergency services on Thursday

Australia’s emergency services on Thursday (March 3) ordered 200,000 people to flee from the path of a wild storm that has killed 13 people in a week of record-setting east coast floods.

Authorities issued severe rain and wind warnings for a 400km stretch of the coast as water levels rose rapidly, including in suburbs around Sydney, Australia’s largest city and home to five million people, which escaped the worst of the deluge.

The unpredictable storm front has crawled southwards along the east coast from Queensland to New South Wales, creating havoc as rivers and reservoirs broke their banks with water swamping homes up to their roofs.

A low-pressure system sat off the coast hundreds of kilometers north of Sydney, dumping the heaviest rain in that area but sparing the city from a feared downpour, said meteorologist Ben Domensino of Weatherzone.

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