A woman is dead and at least a half dozen people, including firefighters, have been injured as high winds hammered Victoria, bringing down power lines and trees onto houses and roads.
The dangerous winds averaged in excess of gale-force strengths, gusting at over 100 kilometres per hour, while in the south-west and central districts the wind speeds averaged between 60kph and 80kph.
A woman in her 50s died when a tree fell on her house at Millgrove east of Melbourne, leaving her trapped for some time before emergency crews could get to her.
An 81-year-old suffered serious injuries when a tree fell on her house at Tecoma, also in Melbourne’s east.
The injured woman’s neighbour, Cobie Arendse, said the winds were horrendous.
“A massive tree had fallen on the [neighbour’s] house and it was quite horrendous,” she said.
“Luckily Sylvia, she’s OK. She’s got a few gashes on her head.”
A man was injured by a falling tree branch at Buninyong, south of Ballarat and two CFA officers suffered minor injuries when tree branches fell on their vehicles.
Winds cause delays at Melbourne Airport
The winds were so strong that Melbourne man Peter Healey said a biplane that took off from Moorabbin Airport appeared to be stopped mid-air.
The tail of a Singapore Airlines passenger plane is believed to have struck the tarmac on take-off in high winds at Melbourne Airport.
The plane continued on its journey and will be inspected when it arrives in Singapore.
Only one runway at Tullamarine was running causing delays for both domestic and passenger flights.
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Thousands of homes lost power in the state’s west and Melbourne suburbs including Berwick, Altona, Laverton, and Healesville, to the east, were also blacked out.
The State Emergency Service (SES), Country Fire Authority (CFA) and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) had received 2200 as of 4:00pm and calls were still coming in.
Most calls for help were for fallen trees.
Emergency Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said fire trucks, ambulances and police vehicles have all be damaged by falling trees during the storm.
Two firefighters received minor injuries in the incidents.
The SES helpline was experiencing delays in handling an “excess number of calls”.
“The key message to Victorians is if it’s urgent or life-threatening, call triple-0,” Mr Lapsley said.
“The bureau was saying it was a one-in-five-year weather event and they were clear in the forecast that we’d see in excess of 100kph winds for many hours and that’s occurred so the forecast is correct.”
The winds are expected to drop off into the evening as the cold front moves across the state bringing cooler conditions.