Australia’s south-east has been hit by severe thunderstorms and large hailstones that destroyed buildings and cars in Canberra and left two tourists in hospital after they were injured by lightning.
Two major cities, Melbourne and Canberra have been pelted by golf-ball sized hail in separate storms within 24 hours, although the outer suburbs received heavy rainfall. The rain has helped to fight bushfires, but many continue to burn.
Two thunderstorms brought hail and heavy rain to cities and towns across the east coast on Monday, battering the outer suburbs of Sydney about 3pm, with 4.5cm hailstones recorded and strong winds bringing trees down over cars in the Sutherland area. The wild weather prompted over 1,500 calls for emergency help in the state of Victoria alone.
In Canberra, where two people were also treated for minor injuries, a 15-minute blast of wild weather just before 1pm resulted in wind gusts up to 117km/h, while golf-ball-sized hailstones smashed through car windows and ripped branches from trees.
Across south-east Queensland 20,000 homes and businesses were without power and two train lines were forced out of action during the peak-hour rush as a storm front battered the state.