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Woman drowns as ex-Tropical Cyclone Seth powers hazardous surf conditions

Thursday January 6, 2022 - 00:36 AEDT
ABC image
Byron Bay main beach was closed as water covered the sand at high tide, dumping debris on the dunes. - ABC

A 47-year-old woman has drowned at a beach on the New South Wales Mid North Coast†amid hazardous surf conditions being driven by ex-Tropical Cyclone Seth.

Lifeguards and emergency services responded to calls at Park Beach at Coffs Harbour, just before 1pm on Monday.†

Most beaches in the region were closed due to a severe weather warning in place for damaging surf as huge seas and abnormally high tides battered coastal areas of the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast.†

Water inundated sand dunes and dumped debris along the shore as damaging winds with gusts of up to 100 kilometres per†hour were also forecast.†

"Along with the heavy seas and dangerous conditions, we're going to also see some very strong tides, large tides and erosion along our coastline," Surf Life Saving NSW (SLSNSW) state duty officer†Jimmy Keough said.

"We're asking people to stay well away from coastal areas, because we are going to see deteriorating conditions going forward into the week.

"If you are attending the beach, be mindful of where you are, what you're doing, and follow any directions given by lifeguards or lifesavers.".

Swimmers in distress

Mr Keough said crews had already responded to several calls for help.

"We've had two emergency call-outs in the Coffs Coast, around Arrawarra, and also a rescue of a person at Crescent Head earlier [on Monday]," he said.

"All these people were in distress in heavy seas.

"Luckily enough, we arrived in time and were able to execute a rescue."

Rock fishing death

Surf and swell conditions were also forecast to be hazardous for activities along the Sydney and Illawarra coastlines.

On Sunday, multiple agencies were tasked to assist after a 21-year-old man drowned when he was washed from rocks while fishing at Windang Island, south of Wollongong.

The man's death came 24 hours after divers pulled the body of a 15-year-old boy from Shoalhaven River, near Nowra.

He had been swimming with a 16-year-old boy at Burrier on New Year's Eve when he got into difficulty and disappeared below the water.

"One of the most difficult aspects of policing is investigating incidents where there's a loss of life that we know was entirely preventable," NSW Police Marine Area Commander Superintendent Murray Reynolds said.

"We would ask people if they're out enjoying recreational activities around the waterways to please exercise caution," he said.

"Our waterways can be unforgiving, and we can have the most terrible outcomes."

Multiple rescues

As thousands of visitors flocked to beaches over the long weekend, surf lifesavers were also kept busy responding to multiple calls for help in the surf.

Two swimmers were rescued after becoming caught in a rip at Little Austinmer Beach, north of Wollongong, while nearby, lifesavers provided first aid, including oxygen therapy, to a 14-year-old boy who suffered a medical episode at Wombarra Rock Pool.

Volunteers also conducted CPR on a young girl at Windang on New Year's Day after she was pulled from the water face down, while 17 people had to be treated for blue bottle stings at Woonona.

"We understand that people want to get out and enjoy the surf and enjoy the sun, but we would ask you take precautions across the state," SLSNSW†president†George Charles said.

"We want you to enjoy yourself, we want you to have fun but ultimately we want you to go home to your friends and family."


© ABC 2022

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