Australia

Sydney tornado: Family home lost hours after auction

Emergency crews work throughout the night to after the wild weather ravaged the Sydney suburb of Kurnell Image copyright NSW SES
Image caption Emergency crews worked throughout the night to after the wild weather ravaged the Sydney suburb of Kurnell

A Sydney family sold their A$1.1m ($800,000; £500,000) home just hours before it was destroyed by a tornado, it has emerged.

Destructive winds of more than 200km/h (124 mph) hit Kurnell, on the south headland of Botany Bay, on Wednesday.

The Bureau of Meteorology said it recorded the fastest ever wind speeds in the state of New South Wales.

Two people were injured, but the authorities said it was lucky no-one was severely hurt.

Frank Partlic and his family had been celebrating the sale of their home on Tuesday night, but by Wednesday morning it was almost destroyed by the severe storm.

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Media captionKurnell residents tell of moment a tornado struck

"It sold at auction for a record price for a block off the water," Mr Partlic, who has also been battling cancer, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Where do we get the money from? I have used up all my holidays to fix up the house to sell it."

The new owners still want to go ahead with the sale, according to reports.

Image copyright Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopters
Image caption A Kurnell resident told Sky News the storm sounded "like a freight train"

'Hard blow'

Local media reports that parts of the suburb Kurnell are still without power and sewage.

"This is a hard blow for the Kurnell community, just one week before Christmas," NSW State Emergency Service (SES) spokesperson Phil Campbell said.

Police are also warning Kurnell residents to not to touch debris or sift through the damage of their homes due to the risk of asbestos exposure.

"We have experts that will examine the area to identify debris that may contain asbestos and coordinate its removal," Assistant Commissioner Michael Fuller said on Thursday.

Image copyright @AussieGamr
Image caption Stunned Christmas shoppers at Westfield in Bondi were forced to evacuate the building on Wednesday after a partial roof collapse

Meanwhile other suburbs including Bondi were also hit hard, with mobile phone footage showing shocked shoppers watching a roof collapse at a Westfield shopping centre.

A Westfield spokeswoman reportedly told the Australian Associated Press on Wednesday that one shopper was hit by debris and treated at the scene for minor injuries.

Sydney airport remained open, but the weather caused delays, AFP news agency reports.

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