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Man dies after being pulled from Gold Coast surf as ex-tropical cyclone Seth brings abnormally high tides, heatwave

Wednesday January 5, 2022 - 03:19 AEDT
ABC image
The man who died had been bodyboarding off Greenmount Beach. - ABC

A 60-year-old man has died at Coolangatta on the Gold Coast after being pulled unconscious from the surf.

Ex tropical cyclone Seth continues to make its mark on Queensland days after being downgraded to a tropical low.

Coastal areas in the south-east have been battered by abnormally high tides, which will ease only slightly today.

It was believed the man who died had been bodyboarding off Greenmount Beach, where he hit a sandbank and was knocked unconscious.

Members of the public pulled the man from the water and raised the alarm with surf lifesavers who attempted to resuscitate the man, but he died at the scene.

Adam Florey, from the Queensland Ambulance Service said crews were called to the beach with reports of a cardiac arrest, just after 9:00am.

"What's believed to have occurred is this person has hit a sand bank and become unconscious and was pulled from the surf," Mr Florey said.

He said surf lifesavers began doing CPR on the man before ambulance officers took over.

"Some bystanders ... immediately reacted and pulled him out of the water," he said.

"The surf is actually quite small compared to what it has been over the last couple of days."

"Take care on the beach, look after your mates, take heed of the council and the lifeguards.

"Swim between the flags, take note of the warnings, obviously the last couple of days they have been closed because of dangerous swells. Take advice form the lifeguards, they're the experts."

Queensland Ambulance Gold Coast clinical support officer Terance Dickson said the man was close to shore when he was found by boardriders.

"From what we understand the bodyboarder was coming in and wasn't out far, that's when he became unresponsive," he said.

Mr Dickson said multiple crews carried out "extensive resuscitation efforts", despite difficult conditions caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Seth.

"It was a very difficult scene working on the beach both in the rain and in the tideline," he said.

"We had to then make a stance of actually moving the patient up the beach."

Some Gold Coast beaches reopened today

Some beaches on the Gold Coast opened this morning, as lifeguards take a cautious approach to putting up the red and yellow flags.

Chief lifeguard Chris Maynard said conditions were "quite favourable" for patrolled areas, with the swell "definitely decreasing overnight".

"It's settled down considerably and it's looking like North Burleigh right down to Rainbow Bay will be open this morning," he said.

"Some of the beaches on the northern part of the coast with the incoming tide are still a little bit compromised just for beach area but will possibly open up after lunch."

Areas north of Miami will stay closed for now.

Mr Maynard said there were "ideal surfing conditions" on the point breaks, but urged board riders to take care.

"It's definitely chilled out, it has improved, but there's a fair bit of push in the ocean," he said.

"It's fairly good in the moment, nice and clean, and about 1 metre, 1.5-metre swell.

"It's shaping up quite well as it has dropped considerably."

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecaster Harry Clark said there were two factors contributing to the rough conditions along the coast.

"The first is we've got really high astronomical tides normally at this time of year and that's combining with the remanence of Seth," he said.

"That is likely to continue [today] probably a little bit less than [yesterday] just because the tide's a little bit smaller, but it looks like [this] morning's high tide once again will probably exceed the highest astronomical tide of the year."

Warnings for abnormally high tides are in place from north-east New South Wales right up to the tip of K'gari (Fraser Island).

City streets to be affected by the tide

Mr Clark said parts of Brisbane have been impacted by the big tides.

"Throughout the Sunshine, Gold Coast and throughout Brisbane there's been lots of low-lying areas that have been inundated, streets, boat ramps, footpaths and even underneath some houses I've seen on social media."

Mr Clark said coastal conditions would ease gradually over the coming days, but warnings should still be observed.

"We currently have a gale warning out for the Gold and Sunshine coast waters [today] that will be downgraded to a strong wind warning, so still not great conditions out on the water but generally an easing trend.

"The really big surf we saw a few days ago as well has dropped off ? still a solid easterly swell through any exposed beaches but probably more around that 1.5-2.5m mark as opposed to the 4m-plus that we were seeing earlier on Monday."

Beaches across parts of the south-east coastline were closed yesterday, including both Moreton and Stradbroke Islands.

On the Gold Coast, council sandbagging stations will be open early this morning after more than 190 were handed out yesterday.

The clean-up of marine debris, washed up by the high tide, has already started, with council workers piling up logs and rubbish on Burleigh Beach.

A city spokesperson said the operation would continue throughout the week.

"We do need to allow for the tide to recede before we can get on the beach and it is also dependent on the number of people on the beach at the time," the spokesperson said.

"Our main focus is to stack the debris and once the impacts are over, we can then remove more quickly and efficiently."

Seth to blame for expected extreme heat in the north

Further north, heatwave conditions are being felt as some areas soar into the 40s.

Meteorologist Helen Reid said Seth was once again to blame.

"The winds are circling around Seth, they're drawing the air across the Queensland continental parts from the north, so there's a heat source there and they're also quite dry through central parts of Queensland there as well."

Ms Reid said even coastal areas like Townsville could expect to sweat through the next few days at least.

"Townsville will be having some fairly hot temperatures consistently for the next few days and they're not expected to be easing off until we get to the end of the week and into the weekend.

"That situation isn't going to be changing for a few days, ex tropical cyclone Seth isn't moving very far so that means that continuation of that flow from the north through that part of the world is helping that heat just keep building."

It's a good time to get creative with ways to keep cool ? like the residents at Billabong Sanctuary south of Townsville.

General manager Beau Peberdy is going above and beyond to keep his residents out of the heat.

"All our wombats, they've already had the measures in place because they are a southern species, they have aircon units in every den," he said.

"Koalas, on the other hand, we have open exhibits so what we do is place cold water bottles or frozen bottles and the koalas just tend to slop over them and adapt to that coolness."

And while ex-tropical cyclone Seth continues to weaken, Ms Reid said we haven't seen the end of cyclone season just yet.

"For the start of next week there looks to be indications that something may form over the northern parts of the coral sea as we head into the new week, but that's very much a watch this space."


© ABC 2022

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