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Family Goes Missing After Heavy Rainfall in Western Australia

WorldFamily Goes Missing After Heavy Rainfall in Western Australia

Seven people are missing in Western Australia after swaths of the outback in the country’s largest and most sparsely populated state were drenched by more than 5.5 inches of rain in 24 hours over the weekend.

The record-breaking rain flooded sections of the Nullarbor Plain, a vast mostly barren area, closing off roads and cutting off the main rail link to the east, both crucial freight links.

“This is not typical weather for southeastern Western Australia,” a warning from the state Department of Fire and Emergency Services said.

The missing people, including four children, have not been seen in more than a day after leaving Kalgoorlie-Boulder, an outback city of 30,000 people, in two vehicles on Sunday, according to the police in Western Australia.

One car was driven by an “elderly driver” on his own, while the other is believed to have had “an elderly driver and five other occupants of which four are children” aged between 7 and 17, according to a statement from the police. The missing people, a family, are understood to have been returning home to the remote Aboriginal community of Tjuntjuntjarra, 400 miles to the northeast.

“Concerns are held for the occupants of these two vehicles due to serious weather conditions” that have hampered the search effort, with low clouds occluding an aerial search, a spokesman for the police said. “It is unknown how much food and water the occupants have in their possession.”

Since Friday morning, Rawlinna, an isolated community of 33 people, has received more than six inches of rain, over half the region’s average annual rainfall of about 10 inches, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Photographs posted to social media by the Rawlinna station, Australia’s largest sheep ranch, showed submerged farm equipment as Craig Chandler, an overseer at the station, took to a kayak to salvage homestead chickens and get around the property.

“The Nullarbor is soaking it in and will be totally rejuvenated from this deluge, but I’m not so sure our buildings, belongings and bits and bobs will be so lucky,” according to a post on the station’s Facebook page on Monday.

Australia is in the middle of summer, and extreme weather has hit other parts of Western Australia. In the coastal vacation town of Exmouth, to the far north of the state, temperatures on Monday were forecast to exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and meteorologists have warned that a tropical cyclone could approach the state.


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