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10 Jun, 2016 14:05

Cloud seeding flight approved for day before fatal Tasmania flooding

Cloud seeding flight approved for day before fatal Tasmania flooding

Tasmania’s government-owned energy company has been asked to explain why it conducted cloud seeding over the Australian island shortly before heavy rains which caused catastrophic flooding.

Cloud seeding is a process which involves dropping ice crystals into clouds to cause rain and is used as a technique to maintain water levels in dams.

Despite heavy rain being forecast, Premier of Tasmania Will Hodgman said Hydro Tasmania gave the seeding go-ahead on Sunday morning.

The cloud seeding was spread over the Derwent River catchment near Ouse in Southern Tasmania, which flooded Monday and where the search continues for a missing farmer.

Another man remains missing in the state’s northern area. At least three people have died and thousands were advised to evacuate their homes and businesses.

It’s not clear why the cloud seeding was approved. "That's why we've sought the explanation from Hydro Tasmania as to those matters," Tasmania’s Energy Minister Matthew Groom told 936 ABC Hobart.

READ MORE: Arachnids above: Army of spiders colonize treetops to escape deadly floods (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

In a statement, Hydro Tasmania insisted “no flood warnings” were in effect for the Upper Derwent area at the time.

However, the Bureau of Meteorology confirmed flood warnings were in place for Tasmania by Sunday morning.

"The extent to which cloud seeding has exaggerated the flood is still to be determined of course, but the evidence from previous cloud seeding operations is that it works and therefore it will have exaggerated the flood to some extent," said local farmer Scott Ashton-Jones to ABC.au.

"The Hydro has always claimed positive results from cloud seeding," he added.