Melbourne storm damage costs millions

Last updated 14:29 11/03/2010

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The damage bill from Melbourne's freak storm continues to rise, with Au$256 million ($NZ$322m) in insurance claims lodged so far.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) said on Thursday 36,000 claims had been lodged to date by owners of damaged cars, homes and businesses.

The ICA had said earlier in the week it was expecting 40,000 claims as a result of the devastating weather.

It is expected to take several weeks for all claims to be received, so that figure may well be surpassed in the near future.

Analysts said it was too early to put a figure on the final cost of the storm, but its scope was sure to see it rival other major severe weather events.

"It will be hard to know what the true cost of this will be, it will take some time, but this is a big one," said Tyndall Investments analyst Jason Kim.

Hailstones measuring up to 10cm in diameter came down across metropolitan Melbourne, causing damage to homes, cars and businesses while heavy rain turned Melbourne's streets into raging rivers.

Part of the roof of the Southern Cross railway station and the nearby Etihad Stadium collapsed under the huge weight of water that fell in the downpour.

The largest weather disaster in the past 20 years was a hailstorm that hit metropolitan Sydney April 1999, which cost insurers Au$1.7 billion.

The damage bill from last February's Victorian bushfires came to about Au$1.12 billion.

In Queensland, claims totalling about Au$120 million have so far been lodged by flood victims, the ICA said on Thursday.

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- AAP

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