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Australians rush to grab sandbags as heavy rain slams southeast

SYDNEY, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Hundreds of homes in southeast Australia were without power on Thursday and residents filled sandbags as an intense weather system lashed the region, bringing warnings of more heavy rain, damaging winds and flash flooding.

Victoria and the island state of Tasmania will be the worst-hit, with some areas in Victoria having already received about 140 mm (5.5 inches), more than double October's mean rainfall, over 24 hours to Thursday morning, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

"There is a lot more to come," bureau forecaster Jonathan How warned on ABC television. "(There is) significant concern right across southeastern Australia."

Devastating floods have repeatedly struck Australia's east coast since early last year because of a multiyear La Nina weather phenomenon, which typically brings more rain.

Most of Victoria, Australia's second-most-populous state, is expected to receive up to 80 mm (3.2 inches) of rain through Friday, while parts of Tasmania could get up to 300 mm, the bureau said in its latest update.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said the weather system will be "one of the most significant flood events we've had for quite some time" as authorities urged residents to avoid non-essential travel. Emergency crews rescued a woman after her vehicle became stuck in floodwaters in Victoria.

Some dams have begun overflowing for the first time in decades, and flood-weary residents rushed to grab sandbags from emergency crews to protect properties. Local media reported some places in Victoria are facing sandbag shortages.

Utility Powercor reported 475 customers were without power across Victoria after wind gusts of 100 kph (62 mph) knocked down power lines and trees.

In Tasmania, emergency services have issued evacuation warnings for some residents of two rural towns in the north, while police began closing several roads because of flooding. (Reporting by Lewis Jackson and Renju Jose; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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