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Australia: Hundreds rescued as severe floods hit Sydney and the New South Wales coast

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A boat is loaded back onto its trailer on a flooded road at Old Pitt Town, north west of Sydney, Australia, Sunday, March 21, 2021.
A boat is loaded back onto its trailer on a flooded road at Old Pitt Town, north west of Sydney, Australia, Sunday, March 21, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Mark Baker
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Australia's most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) on Sunday issued more evacuation orders following the worst flooding in decades.

The NSW State Emergency Services responded to 640 calls for help on Saturday night, including 66 for flood rescues.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said hundreds of people have been rescued from the waters.

Evacuation orders have been issued at multiple locations on the Mid North Coast in the northeast of the state, which Berejiklian said was experiencing a one-in-a-100-year event, and said that rainfall would continue in those parts already affected.

A resident of Taree, some 300 km (185 miles) north of Sydney, said heavy rains had hit overnight.

"When we went to bed last night this was all green paddock and when we woke up this morning we had a lake," said Shane Bridger.

Berejiklian also said that parts of Western Sydney are being hit by a one-in-50-year weather event, with some locations recorded more than 300 milimeters (11.8 inches) of rain since Friday morning, breaking records.

The Warragamba dam, west of Sydney, started overflowing on Sunday and so far, 13 evacuation centers have been opened across the state. More evacuations are expected as the bad weather is forecast to last into the middle of the week.

Local authorities are urging people not to drive through flooded areas as they could get easily swept away by the strong currents.