Melbourne storm: Three killed as winds cause widespread damage

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image captionThis tree fell and killed a four-year-old boy in Melbourne

Three people - including a four-year-old boy - have been killed by falling trees after a storm lashed the Australian state of Victoria.

Gusts of up to 158km/h (100mph) were recorded, causing widespread damage and knocking out power to 95,000 homes.

The deaths happened in suburbs across the state capital, Melbourne - a city already reeling from a Covid outbreak.

On Friday, residents in 88 suburbs were also warned that the storm had contaminated drinking water.

image copyrightEPA
image captionLocal residents assessing the damage along Kaola Street in Belgrave, Melbourne

Locals made more than 2,100 calls for emergency assistance after the storm crossed the state late on Thursday, bringing down power lines and damaging buildings.

The four-year-old boy was crushed by a tree on a footpath in the suburb of Blackburn South and died in hospital, authorities said.

He had been walking with his father and toddler sister when the accident happened about 18.00 local time (08.00 GMT), the Herald Sun reported.

"They've just gone outside for a little walk - it was just for two minutes, they went outside - and the tree just suddenly fell on him," a relative told the newspaper.

image copyrightEPA
image captionA car crushed in Belgrave - one suburb which saw much damage

The other victims were a 59-year-old man in the suburb of Belgrave, and a 36-year-old woman in Fernshaw, near Melbourne. Both died when trees fell on their cars.

The storm caused untreated water from a dam to enter the city's drinking water system, affecting up to 250,000 houses.

Those residents should boil water before drinking it until at least late on Friday, said utility company Yarra Valley Water.

media captionHell to high water: Australia’s summer of extremes

Melbourne has been in a strict lockdown for almost two months after seeing Australia's worst coronavirus outbreak. Almost 500 people have died in Victoria, but new infections are slowing.

Currently, residents are allowed to leave home only for essential reasons and for one hour of exercise per day.