Thousands of Australians in Sydney have been ordered to evacuate their homes this Sunday due to torrential rains hitting the country’s largest city and flooding its outskirts.

Roads across the city have been blocked and authorities say at least 18 evacuation orders have been issued in western Sydney, an area hit by severe flooding last March.

“This is a life-threatening emergency situation,” Stephanie Cooke, Minister for Emergency Services for the state of New South Wales, told reporters.

Australia has especially suffered from climate change, with floods, deadly bushfires, coral bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef, and floods becoming more common and intense.

With worsening weather expected in the coming days, Cooke described the flooding as a “rapidly evolving situation” and warned people to be “prepared to evacuate at any time”.

She asked those living along a 500km stretch of Australia’s east coast, both south and north of Sydney, to consider canceling trips for school holidays due to the weather.

Emergency services have attended more than 29 flood rescues and have been summoned more than 1,400 times in the last 24 hours, it said.

March’s East Coast flooding, triggered by severe storms that devastated western Sydney, claimed the lives of 20 people.

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