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Child, 4, among three dead as powerful winds rock Victoria

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A four-year-old boy is among three people killed by falling trees as wild weather lashed Victoria and left more than 100,000 customers without power.

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Police confirmed the pre-schooler died after being struck by a tree on Hawthorn Rd in Melbourne’s Blackburn South on Thursday evening.

A 36-year-old woman also died after a tree hit the ute she was a passenger in on Maroondah Highway in Fernshaw about 7pm. The 24-year-old male driver was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

In another incident, a 59-year-old man died after a tree fell on his car as he was leaving a shopping centre in Belgrave.

Police are preparing coroner’s reports for the three incidents.

The early-evening storm caused widespread power outages and sparked a water quality warning over gastric contamination concerns.

Supplier Yarra Water reported that an outage at the Silvan Reservoir, 40km east of Melbourne, meant untreated water was released into the system.

That affects about 250,000 homes in 88 suburbs mainly across the city’s north and east, according to managing director Pat McCafferty.

Yarra Valley is urging customers to boil drinking water.

“This is really precautionary; the risk is low but we think it’s better to be prudent in these matters,” Mr McCafferty told 3AW.

He expects supply to be back to normal later on Friday.

A wind gust of 158km/h was recorded at Wilsons Promontory, about 200km from Melbourne.

In the city, the strongest gusts were felt at the Fawkner Beacon (115km/h), St Kilda Harbour (111km/h) and Avalon (104km/h).

As of Friday morning, Victoria’s State Emergency Service had logged more than 2000 calls for help.

It said most were for downed trees and about 10 per cent for building damage.

The worst-hit areas were Mount Evelyn (58 calls for assistance), Belgrave (55), Croydon (45), Lilydale (34) and Mount Waverley (30) – all in Melbourne’s east.

AusNet, power supplier to the state’s east, said 121,000 customers had been impacted across its network.

Some 52,458 customers awoke without power but outages had dropped below 44,000 by 11am.

“It’s a big cleanup,” an AusNet spokeswoman told AAP.

“Some customers will be back on today but for some of them it could take days.

“We’re just working through the extent of the damage right now.”

Customers should steer clear of downed powerlines and assume they’re live before reporting the damage to their local energy provider.

A further 2461 outages are still being fixed by United Energy, the energy provider to Melbourne’s inner south-east and the Mornington Peninsula.

They were affecting traffic lights, with motorists told to drive carefully.

Meanwhile, Metro Trains said major delays were clearing for the Cranbourne, Pakenham and Frankston lines after an equipment fault near Caulfield. A tree also fell across rail lines near Malvern.

Strong winds are also forecast for Victoria on Sunday.

Meteorologist Chris Arvier told AAP gusts could reach similar levels to those that battered the state on Thursday and trigger another severe weather warning.

-AAP

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