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Australia: fears grow as flood waters engulf Brisbane

Reuters/Mick Tsikas

More than 30,000 homes in Australia’s third most populous city Brisbane are expected to be inundated by the country’s worst flooding in a hundred years, as fears grow for those reported missing in the disaster. 

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Residents of the river city of two million deserted Brisbane centre and fled to evacuation centres on higher ground on Wednesday as they prepared for the worst deluge since 1893.

"We are bracing for a one-in-a-hundred-year flood," said Queensland state premier Anna Bligh.

Correspondent Sharon Mascall told RFI that the authorities have called on the local community to help with evacuations because of the sheer number of residents.

"They are actually asking people in the community if they have a property, a house or a farm on high ground, if they can somehow get local people to those areas of safety on their property and take some role [in the evacuations] themselves".

More than 50 suburbs and 2,100 roads are expected to be left under water as the Brisbane River bursts its banks and swamps the city centre with the peak of 5.5 metres due early on Thursday.

Damage is already immense, with witnesses spotting entire houses and floating restaurants which had broken their moorings careering down the Brisbane river.

City authorities said about 20,000 homes will be completely flooded with another 12,000 partially affected.

A flooded supermarket in the city of Brisbane
A flooded supermarket in the city of Brisbane Daniel Sharp

Brisbane resident Daniel Sharp told RFI that he had experienced power cuts and that rising waters had inundated several buildings near his home in the suburb of Fairfield.

"Yesterday, residents on low lands were told to evacuate. Generally they were calm though the evacuation was very unexpected," he said. "I helped out families who were moving. Some of the homes were surrounded by water only meters away and the water was rising very rapidly."

Panic-buying has stripped supermarket shelves of essential supplies and Brisbane's port was open only for emergency supplies.

Bligh said the death toll was expected to keep rising with "very, very grave fears" for 15 people among 51 listed as missing.

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