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Warnings for NSW beaches and coast amid weekend rescues; 4-metre swells predicted

Monday February 19, 2018 - 10:45 EDT
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East coast pounded by rough waves over weekend - ABC

Authorities have issued warnings for dangerous surf conditions, including waves bigger than 4 metres, expected along much of the New South Wales coast today.

Lifesavers rescued about 150 people across the weekend, including incidents where multiple people were pulled from the water.

A 24-year-old man collapsed and was pulled unconscious from the water by his girlfriend at Hat Head beach, east of Kempsey, about 4:00pm Sunday afternoon.

NSW Police said members of the public performed CPR on the man, but he died at the scene.

The investigation would also consider whether the man had a medical episode.

He is believed to be from Kempsey.

Warnings are in place today for the Byron, Coffs, Macquarie, Hunter, Sydney, Illawarra, Batemans and Eden coasts.

Several beaches were closed over the weekend, with heavy swells and surf hitting Australia's east coast in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Gita.

Liam Howitt from Surf Life Saving NSW said swimmers, surfers, boaters and rock fishers should stay out of the water, particularly in the state's north.

"Northern New South Wales is expected to experience extremely strong conditions, with waves in excess of four metres as a result of the system pushing down from Queensland," he said.

"So as a lifesaving community, we're certainly encouraging everyone to be extremely careful before heading out and not to overestimate their ability or underestimate the conditions.

There is also a severe storm warning for heavy rainfall for parts of the South Coast and Snowy Mountains.

Search for swimmer now 'recovery' operation

Meanwhile, a recovery operation continues to find the body of a swimmer who went missing in rough surf on the NSW north coast on Saturday.

The 22-year-old man got into trouble after becoming caught in a rip at Valla Beach at Nambucca.

Surf Life Saving NSW chief executive Steven Pearce said on Sunday that authorities were preparing for the worst.

"We are no longer looking at this as a rescue operation, more as a recovery operation, so we have a significant amount for assets up there, surf life-saving assets up there," he said.

Further south on Sunday, two people were rescued after their boat sank in big swells on Sydney's northern beaches.

Local lifeguards rescued the pair at Shelly Beach at Manly, where powerful waves and swells of more than two metres were reported on Sunday morning.

Police Marine Area command has issued the following advice:
People should consider staying out of the water and avoid walking near surf-exposed areas.
Rock fishers should avoid coastal rock platforms exposed to the ocean and seek a safe location that is sheltered from the surf.
Boaters planning to cross shallow water and ocean bars should consider changing or delaying their voyage.
Boaters already on the water should carry the appropriate safety equipment and wear a lifejacket.
Boaters should remember to log on with their local Marine Rescue radio base, via VHF Radio or the Marine Rescue app, and consider their safety management plan.


© ABC 2018

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