February 29, 2024

A 10-year-old girl is fighting for life after being struck by lightning as more wild weather descended on Queensland, causing major flooding in Cairns.

The girl was injured at a private property in Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast at 2.30pm on Saturday during severe thunderstorms due to ex-Cyclone Jasper.

She was taken to Sunshine Coast University hospital then flown to Queensland children’s hospital in a critical condition, Queensland police confirmed.

An emergency warning was issued on Sunday morning as Cairns started to experience major flooding due to the Barron River quickly rising.

Homes, buildings, roads and bridges were flooded, while authorities warned of landslides as well as the risk that vital services including power, water, sewerage and telephone services could be cut off.

The Barron River boat ramp and car park inundated with water in Cairns
The Barron River boat ramp and car park inundated with water in Cairns. Photograph: Joshua Prieto/EPA

Residents have been urged not to drive, to take shelter inside and to stay up high with people in the Barron catchment and Machans Beach particularly at risk.

Major flood warnings have also been issued elsewhere in far north Queensland including for the Daintree River, the Herbert River, the Johnstone River catchment and the Mulgrave River.

Jasper has now reached the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria as a low after dumping as much as a metre of rain on parts of the state over a four-day period.

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The category 2 system hit the coast north of Cairns on Wednesday night before weakening to a tropical low. It hovered over far north Queensland including the Cape York Peninsula on Saturday and led to more rain falling on already sodden regions.

The system is slowly moving west and there is a chance it may redevelop into a cyclone from Wednesday as it moves north, according to Angus Hines from the Bureau of Meteorology.

“It’s likely to meander around the Gulf as a tropical low pressure system,” the meteorologist said on Saturday. “We have a moderate chance that Jasper will turn back into a cyclone through Wednesday until Friday.”

Jasper could then impact the top end of the Northern Territory, or double back and hit far north Queensland again.

Emergency services are pleading with people to take care in the wet weather and to prepare their properties, with the State Emergency Service reporting that it has responded to hundreds of requests for help.

A 30-year-old man was killed on Friday evening in the Brisbane suburb of Murarrie as severe thunderstorms rolled across the state’s south-east.

Police said the unconscious man had been found lying near fallen power lines on Murarrie Road and had died a short time later. On Saturday it was confirmed that the man had been electrocuted.

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