Three people have died, including a four-year-old boy who had been outside for “two minutes”, after wild weather battered Melbourne on Thursday night.
Ayan Kapoor, 4, tragically passed away in hospital after he was hit by a falling tree in Blackburn South about 6pm.
His family told the Whitehorse Leader he was hit by the tree in Hawthorn Rd while out walking with his dad and little sister for just “two minutes”.
He was taken to Box Hill Hospital before being transferred to the Royal Children’s Hospital where police said he died later that evening.
A woman, 36, also died when a tree fell on a ute in Fernshaw east of Melbourne about 6.50pm.
Police said the ute was travelling along the Maroondah Highway when it was struck by a falling tree.
The Parkdale woman, who was the front passenger in the vehicle, died at the scene, while the driver, a Flinders man, 24, was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
A third person, a 59-year-old Tecoma man, died when his car was crushed while leaving a shopping centre carpark at the corner of Terrys Ave and Ena Rd in Belgrave, in Melbourne’s east.
Police said the tree toppled on his car about 6pm. Emergency crews worked to free him, but he was unable to be saved.
Police will prepare reports for the coroner for each of the three incidents.
About 53,000 homes were still without power on Friday morning, while the State Emergency Service received almost 2100 calls for assistance, mostly in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs.
More than 160,000 people lost power across the city, with 52,458 AusNet and 1260 United Energy customers waking up without electricity on Friday morning.
An AusNet spokeswoman apologised to customers for the outages but said there was extensive damage to the network and restoration would take some time.
She said an aerial inspection team was working with ground crews to identify damage.
She urged people to be very careful of and assume fallen power lines were live. The emergency faults number for AusNet customers is 13 17 99.
A United Energy spokeswoman said they hoped to have power restored to most of the 1260 affected customers – the majority in Burwood and Hastings – sometime on Friday.
The SES said the hardest-hit areas were Mount Evelyn with 58 calls for assistance, Belgrave with 55, Croydon with 45, Lilydale with 34 and Mount Waverley with 30.
At least 85 per cent of the calls were for fallen trees, and 10 per cent were for building damage.
SES state duty officer Gerry Sheridan told 3AW radio on Friday morning they were still responding to about 400 jobs and would mobilise crews from other parts of the city.
Trees also fell across train tracks, causing several major train lines in Melbourne to be suspended.
Buses were needed to replace trains on the Belgrave, Cranbourne, Frankston, Glen Waverley, Hurstbridge, Pakenham and Sandringham lines.
All lines were back up and running on Friday morning, apart from Frankston and Cranbourne services, which had delays of up to 15 minutes due to a tree on tracks between Caulfield and Malvern.
VicRoads urged motorists to drive with caution, with many traffic lights still out and trees across roads in Melbourne’s outer east.
They said drivers should treat intersections with traffic signal outages like a stop or give-way sign.
Bedford Rd remains closed in both directions between Dublin Rd and Illoura Ave due to a large tree down, as is the Maroondah Highway between Narbethong and Healesville where the woman was killed.
A fallen tree has also closed inbound lanes of Mt Dandenong Rd at Cherylnne Cres in Kilsyth.
Mountain Highway in Bayswater, Warrandyte Rd in Ringwood, Burwood Highway in Ferntree Gully, Stud Rd in Wantirna South and Maroondah Highway in Coldstream were among those with traffic lights still out.
The areas most affected by the storm included Hastings, Knox, Whitehorse and Bellarine.
The weather bureau issued a severe weather warning on Thursday afternoon for damaging winds averaging about 70km/h, with peak gusts of more than 100km/h.
The bureau said Mt Gellibrand recorded gusts of 124km/h, with 111km/h winds at Wilsons Promontory, 104km/h at Avalon, 102km/h at Cape Otway, 100km/h at Port Fairy and 89km/h at Essendon Airport.
The storm hit Victoria from the west, reaching Colac about 4pm before sweeping across Melbourne about 6pm.
The front then moved across the central coasts in the early evening and reached Gippsland later that night.
“These winds are associated with the passage of a cold front and will have a rapid onset and will not persist for long, gradually easing following the passage of the front,” the bureau said on Thursday.
“Damaging winds will contract eastwards tonight, easing below warning thresholds in the west during the late afternoon or early evening, central parts during the evening, and the East Gippsland coast by early Friday morning. Winds over the northeast ranges will ease during Friday morning.”
The SES has urged road users, particularly in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and the Yarra Valley, to drive slowly and be mindful of fallen branches and debris.
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