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Severe thunderstorm causes blackouts, damage in Canberra

Canberra, Jan 4 (IANS) Thousands of people in the Australian capital of Canberra on Tuesday were without electricity after a severe thunderstorm hit the city, damaging homes and cars.

Canberra was hit by large hailstones and strong winds at approximately 5 p.m. on Monday, reports Xinhua news agency.

Emergency services received more than 400 calls for help, more than half of which remained unresolved on Tuesday morning.

There were widespread reports of fallen trees damaging homes and cars, with the northern suburbs of Belconnen and Gungahlin hit hardest.

"Staff and volunteers will be working into the night to provide assistance to the community. Please remember to stay safe and keep clear of storm damage in public areas and on roadways," a spokesperson for the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Emergency Services Agency (ESA) said.

According to energy company Evoenergy, more than 16,000 homes experienced blackouts.

"Our crews are busy conducting repairs, and we ask for your patience as we're inundated with reports," Evoenergy said in a statement.

In Charnwood in the north-west flash flooding damaged buildings but there were no reports of injuries.

The Central Business District (CBD) was relatively unaffected, experiencing only brief rain.