Six missing and a Japanese tourist trapped as flash flooding in central Australia closes Uluru

Uluru in the rain. Image: Parks Australia

One person was reported trapped and six were missing after central Australia was hit by heavy rain, causing flash flooding and the evacuation of residents from a remote community.

Uluru was turned into a waterfall, normally dry tracks into mud baths and creek beds which haven’t had water in years into raging torrents.

Police say three people got in to trouble while trying to drive across the swollen Hugh Creek near Alice Springs.

ABC radio reports that two people got out safely but a third, a Japanese tourist, was still in the vehicle which was wedged against a tree with floodwaters pushing against it.

Northern Territory Duty Superintendent Brendan Muldoon says grave concerns are held for the missing person.

The car, a small silver sedan, was washed off a causeway and floated downstream.

He urged tourists, unused to local conditions, to take care. “Our roads can very quickly become impassable,” he told a media briefing.

Six people, including a baby, were also reported missing, their two cars believed to be bogged in a remote area as they travelled from Western Australia to central Australia.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park was closed with roads around the park made unsafe by the rain.

The rain created waterfalls on the massive sandstone monolith in the heart of the Australia’s Red Centre. Rangers posted this footage:

Later today the rangers announced that Uluṟu was reopening.

“We’re pleased to report that Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is open to visitors today,” a spokesman said.

“All roads are now open, but there is still water across the road in several areas, so please drive with care.

“Rangers are busy behind the scenes, ensuring that all tracks and walks will be cleared and safe to use as soon as possible. Because of this, there will be no Ranger Guided Mala Walk today.”

The Todd River in Alice Springs, which is usually a dry riverbed, was reported to be flowing with water.

The same rain caused flash flooding at Kintore, 520 km west of Alice Springs. Northern Territory Police evacuated 96 people to the local school on Sunday.

“Water levels reached one metre and was fast flowing in parts, however it has now receded,” says Superintendent Pauline Vicary.

“A number of roads in the area remain impassable, and it is advised that people avoid the area and make alternative travel arrangements if possible.”

Six people who set off on Christmas Day from Kiwirrkurra in Western Australian to Kintore were reported missing. Authorities believe their two vehicles are most likely bogged.

Flooded roads are making a search difficult.

Flooding at Kintore. Image: NT Police

Here’s some more images from Uluru:

and video:

Glen Helen Homestead Lodge, 130 km west of Alice Springs, says the roads are impassable.

“Rivers in full flow and still rising,” the homestead said in a post on Facebook.

“If you are planning a trip out this way today then you should rethink your plans as you won’t make it.”

The local Ellery Creek has transformed into a river, as this video shows:

And here’s video of the Lasseter Highway near Curtin Springs:

The Bureau of Meteorology says rain is now easing. Rainfall of 128 mm was recorded at Curtin Springs. Here’s where the rain hit:

Image: Bureau of Meteorology (Northern Territory)

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