Little boy was walking with his family when tragedy struck
The family of a four-year-old boy killed in the Thursday night wild storm that swept across Melbourne said he had gone out for a quick walk with his father and little sister when he was hit by a falling tree just metres from his Blackburn South home.
Emergency services have been inundated with calls for help on Friday morning after 100km/h winds tore through Melbourne, killing three people, leaving 50,000 homes and businesses without power and 88 suburbs with undrinkable water.
Young boy Ayan Kapoor had been outside for just a few minutes when tragedy struck on Hawthorn Rd at 6pm.
"He (the father) is in very bad condition, he's in shock, he blames himself for what happened," Ayan's uncle told the Herald Sun.
"His one-and-a-half year old sister was out walking with them and it happened right in front of them."
Ayan's auntie said the tragedy happened after they went for a walk, just as they would on many other nights.
"They've just gone outside for a little walk, it was just for two minutes they went outside, and the tree just suddenly fell on him," Ayan's auntie said.
"The father had a little injury on his foot but he is okay ... it's just very sad news."
The uprooted tree is lying along the footpath on the residential street, with the area marked off by cones.
Two Whitehorse City Council workers were assessing the tree on Friday morning.
Ayan was taken to Box Hill Hospital before being transferred to the Royal Children's Hospital where police said he died later on Thursday night.
A woman, 36, also died when a tree fell on a ute in Fernshaw, 75km 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 had his car crushed while he was 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 and emergency crews worked to free him but he was unable to be saved.
One woman was lucky to escape serious injury when a tree slammed into the ground in front of her car.
Meagan Murphy said she had "never been so scared" when the large tree crashed to the ground as she was driving along Coolart Rd near the Myers Rd intersection in Balnarring.
The Bureau of Meteorology said winds of more than 100km/h were recorded in the southern parts of the state between 5pm and 6pm, peaking at 150km/h in Wilsons Promontory.
Winds between 90-100km/h were recorded across Mount Evelyn, Belgrave, Croydon and Lilydale after 4pm on Thursday.
More than a dozen fallen trees have caused carnage on a Belgrave street.
Large gum trees cover much of Kaola St, where locals have been left without power due to damaged power lines.
Several homes have been badly damaged by the storm, including Nigel Leslie's home.
Luckily, Mr Leslie and his two daughters were in McDonald's when the tree came crashing down on his home.
The Belgrave man said it was "numbing" to see the destruction the storm had caused to his home and the street.
"Had we not have gone to Macca's, I dare say that we would have been in the house," he said.
"You just never know. I guess COVID has hopefully brought a lot of people together ... you realise that these are the sort of things that bring people together.
"Things could have been a lot worse on this street. It's chaos - just carnage."
Mr Leslie's ex wife, Brooke, broke down in tears as she recalled the moments she was reunited with her daughters after she learned about the fallen tree.
"When Nigel got home with the girls, my youngest just ran into my arms and said 'Daddy could have died'," she said.
"It was pretty confronting. If I hadn't have hurt my back, I could have been here dropping off the kids. We all could have been here.
"The universe has looked after us."
Firefighters remain at the scene of storm damage on Kaola St on Friday as they work to clear away the uprooted trees.
Meteorologist Chris Arvier said although Thursday's sweeping storm had passed, Victorians living in the south of the state should brace for a second cold front this weekend.
"We will see severe weather down south on Sunday with winds expected to reach 100km/h", Mr Arvier said.
Volunteers are still working this morning to resolve 424 requests for help after Mount Evelyn, Belgrave, Croydon and Lilydale experienced the highest number of calls overnight.
A representative from the SES said Lilydale and Emerald in Melbourne's east were the hardest hit, with many residents waking up to fallen trees in their streets.
Power outages are impacting more than 50,000 homes and businesses in the east, with widespread blackouts in Ringwood, Croydon, Ferntree Gully, Emerald and Belgrave.
An SES spokesman said there were 1233 call-outs between 2pm and 8pm on Thursday.
That included 1032 calls for trees down.
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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.
A transport department spokesman said crews were on their way to clear debris and restore power across the lines.
VicRoads warned motorists to drive with extreme caution, with traffic signal outages at intersections along the Burwood Highway, Maroondah Highway, Canterbury Road, Springvale Road, Stud Road, Blackburn Road and Warrandyte Road.
Other areas affected by the storm included Hastings, Knox, Whitehorse and Bellarine.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning on Thursday, advising parts of the state could see winds averaging up to 70km/h, but some areas along the south coast were already hit with more than 100 km/h winds.
Before 4.30pm on Thursday, Mt Gellibrand recorded a gust of 124km/h, with 102 km/h at Cape Otway, 100km/h at Port Fairy and 89 km/h at Avalon.
The Bureau warned peak gusts of up to 120 km/h were eexpected on the Alpine peaks.
A warning for damaging winds was in place for people living in parts of Central, East Gippsland, South West, North Central, North East and West and South Gippsland Forecast Districts.
It included areas such as Warrnambool, Geelong, Melbourne, Wonthaggi, Bairnsdale and Orbost.
Winds moved from the south coastal areas towards the greater Melbourne area.
The cold front then moved towards central coasts in the early evening and reached the Gippsland coasts later on Thursday 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.
"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 State Emergency Service advised people to watch out for falling trees and powerlines, move vehicles away from trees and secure loose items like outdoor settings, umbrellas or trampolines.
Originally published as Boy, 4, walking with family when tragedy struck