THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12
Nature played a cruel trick on Queensland last night when Brisbane, one of only a few areas in the state not gripped by drought, was hit by a massive downpour which dumped more than 100 millimetres of rain on parts of the city in about an hour.
Brisbane’s overnight rainfall in the storm, which saw 208,000 lightning strikes in South East Queensland, equalled what it has received in the last six months.
East Brisbane had the biggest falls with 130mm — 112mm of that was recorded in one hour — while Brisbane city had 100mm.
About 29,000 homes were left without power and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services duty manager Brett Finnis said crews responded to more than 100 calls for assistance, mostly for alarms, minor flooding and electrical issues.
Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Michael Knepp said more storms could be on the way in coming days.
“It looks like maybe our seasons have switched from fire season to storm season,” he said.
“The amount of rain we had last night in Brisbane, has equalled the amount of rain we have had in the last six months, and almost all of that fell in one hour.”
He said the rain was mostly localised, with parts of the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast missing out.
But golf-ball sized hail was recorded east of Warwick, and some at Applethorpe, before the cell tracked towards Brisbane.
Mr Knepp said gauges at Amberley, Archerfield and Brisbane airports recorded wind gusts of between 60 and 70 kilometres per hour.
“I have no doubt there were stronger wind gusts than that in our area,” he said.
“Those three airports missed the strongest gusts, and I have no doubt there would have been some trees down in some areas.”
He said there could be more storms today, and possibly again tomorrow depending on a southerly change.
“If the southerly change] comes through early in the morning, it more than likely will be north of Brisbane, but if it comes through in the afternoon we’re going to have another round of severe thunderstorms,” he said.
It is still too dangerous for retrieval teams to return to White Island and bring back the bodies of nine people still missing after Monday’s NZ volcano eruption.
Police said anyone going to the island now would likely encounter serious physical and chemical hazards.
Police Minister Stuart Nash said authorities had to consider the risks carefully.
“This isn’t police stonewalling in any shape or form. This is police ensuring that the men and women who do go across for recovery do so in a way that ensures that they are safe,” he told local television.
New Zealand’s geological science agency yesterday put the risk of an imminent eruption at 50 per cent.
Earlier this morning, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said recovery teams hoped to gain access to the volcanic island today.
“I’ve spoken to many of those involved in the operation and they are very, very eager to get back there, they want to bring people’s loved ones home,” she said.
Eight people, including seven Australians, are confirmed dead with nine , including seven Australians, missing and presumed dead.
The official death toll rose this morning when Knox Grammar School in Sydney’s north released a statement confirming the loss of two of its students — Matthew Hollander (year 8) and Berend Hollander (year 10) — who died in hospital as a result of injuries sustained in the eruption.
The school said the boys’ parents were still unaccounted for.
Dozens of people are in various hospitals across New Zealand being treated for injuries and nine people are still missing — seven Australians and two New Zealanders.
The Australian Defence Force confirmed three injured Australians had been returned to Australia and were being treated in hospital.
Another two victims are expected to be flown back later today, with three RAAF planes carrying medical specialists involved in the operation.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement that “any transfers will depend strictly on medical decisions from doctors that it is safe to move the patients”.
Meanwhile, a pilot who helped rescue survivors from White Island after the eruption said on local TV he was ready to head back to retrieve the ash-covered bodies of those killed in Monday’s eruption.
But Mark Law says he is ready to land on the island and believes the process of removing the bodies can be done in 90 minutes.
“For us, it’s 20 minutes to get out there. We could load those folks on and be back here in an hour and a half,” Mr Law said.
“I know where they all are, and the conditions are perfect for recovery in my mind.”
A painting valued at nearly $A100 million has been found hidden in the wall of the Italian gallery it was supposedly stolen from more than 20 years ago.
The work by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt was found by one of the gallery’s gardeners.
Gallery officials said the painting, which was in as plastic rubbish bag, was in “excellent condition” but experts are trying to work out if it is genuine
The story of the missing masterpiece, a portrait of a young woman completed in 1917 and valued at 60 million euros ($97 million), is considered one of the world’s most baffling art mysteries.
It disappeared from the Ricci Oddi gallery in the northern city of Piacenza in February 1997, with police saying they believed thieves used a fishing line to hook it off the wall and haul it up through an open skylight to the gallery roof where the frame was discarded.
A skilled forgery of the painting, wrapped up and posted to a disgraced politician, was seized by authorities a month later, adding to the mystery.
But the story took another twist this week as a gardener cleared ivy off the gallery’s outside wall.
Discovering a small trapdoor, he opened it to find what appeared to be the painting, inside a plastic rubbish bag.
“This is incredible,” said Jonathan Papamarengh, head of culture in Piacenza town council.
Mr Papamarengh said it was hard to believe that the original had been hidden in the gallery wall ever since its disappearance, saying the building had been carefully searched after the theft.
Mr Papamarengh said the Klimt was second on the list of the most valuable art missing in Italy, just behind a painting by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio that was stolen from a church in Sicily in 1969.
The Klimt is considered particularly important because shortly before its disappearance, an art student realised it was painted over another work previously believed lost — a portrait of a young lady that had not been seen since 1912 — making it the only “double” Klimt known to the art world.
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