New South Wales erosion: Huge swells leave homes at risk of collapse

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Image caption,
Days of high tide have eroded Wamberal Beach north of Sydney

Huge waves have pummelled the Australian state of New South Wales, eroding some coastal areas and putting homes at risk of collapse.

In beach suburbs to the north of Sydney, residents lost decks and fences as the surf lapped at the edge of properties.

Authorities say they have recorded waves as high as 11m (36ft) this week off the city's coastline.

The wild surf has been caused by a strong low pressure system.

On Friday, the Bureau of Meteorology (Bom) re-issued a "hazardous" surf warning for the state's entire 2,100km (1,300-mile) coastline.

It advised people to stay away from the water, and warned against swimming, boating and rock fishing in the conditions.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Surfers at Sydney's northern beaches on Thursday riding the massive waves

The biggest waves have been about four times the size of an average wave at this time of the year, said Weatherzone, a meteorology company.

In the suburb of Wamberal, an hour's north drive of Sydney, residents were evacuating beachfront homes at risk of collapse.

Pictures showed the tide had carved out some soil under houses, leaving foundations exposed.

Image caption,
Locals fear the waves have caused structural damage to their homes

"We're anxious and and frightened and vulnerable and quite frankly, angry, we've come to this situation," one resident, Margaret Bryce, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

She said locals had in previous years called for a break wall to be built as they experienced higher tides.

"The wall was not built. People are devastated we have lost our pristine beach."

Image caption,
Authorities have placed concrete blocks along the shore to protect the homes

In its 2018 State of the Climate report, the Bom said that sea levels had been rising around Australia due to warming ocean temperatures.

It noted climate change had also led to an increase in extreme weather events such higher-than-normal rainfall and powerful storm surges.

"As climate change continues, the combination of increases in heavy rainfall and rising sea levels means that coastal and estuarine environments may have an increase in flood risk from multiple causes," the bureau said in its report.

Media caption,

Hell to high water: Australia’s summer of extremes