Severe thunderstorms strike NSW, disrupting power to 80 000 homes, Australia

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Severe thunderstorms battered the Australian state of New South Wales on Tuesday, February 18, 2020, disrupting power to about 80 000 homes. Lightning hit a whopping 800 000 times across the entire state, while 74 000 strikes hit Sydney, resulting in one death.

According to utility company Ausgrid, the intense lightning storm left about 80 000 properties without power. As of 10:00 UTC on Thursday, February 20, less than 1 000 customers are still without power but most are expected to be back on in the evening.

"Crews continue making good progress restoring power to customers impacted by Tuesday’s severe storms," said Ausgrid. "We’ve restored 79 000 since Tuesday."

The company added that repairs for about 50 customers will go into Friday, February 21.

The phenomenon tragically caused one fatality in Sydney, identified as a 37-year-old man named Hoong Leong. Strong winds from the storm blew away a gas bottle that hit the victim, which was described by authorities as a rare accident.

Leong was reportedly on his way home, walking along Harrington Street in the Rocks when the freak accident occurred. 

Police arrived on the scene promptly, as well as medics who performed CPR but Leong was eventually declared dead at St. Vincent's Hospital.

"We just need to know what happened to this fellow, where the bottle's come from. It's come from a very great height," said detective inspector David El-Badawi.

"As he's walking its hit him in the right side of the shoulder and he's gone down onto the floor."

Katherine Railings, acting superintendent from NSW Ambulance Service called it a "one in a million accident".

"This is a very, very unusual circumstance," she said. "It's a complete tragedy."

"It's certainly a reminder for us all, with the weather we're having that we do need to be careful, we do need to watch out for ourselves and each other."

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Image credit: @wildusek/Twitter

A wind warning is in place for NSW on Thursday into Friday, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

Featured image credit: @wildusek/Twitter

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