Australia

Australian PM appeals for funds for flood chaos

Reuters/Lake Burrendong Sport and Recreation Centre/Tracy Woods

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday launched a public appeal and pledged one million dollars (760,000 euros) of government money to help victims of flooding. The army has airlifted hundreds of people from northeastern towns.

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Rains caused by a tropical cyclone have left much of the state of Queensland under water, with 1,000 evacuations and 38 regions declared natural disaster areas.

"For some communities floodwaters have never reached these levels before the time that we have been recording floods," said Gillard. "For many communities we haven't even seen the peak of the floodwaters yet, that's a number of days away."

Correspondent Hamish Macdonald, Sydney

Hundreds fled their homes in the cities of Bundaberg and Emerald, north of Brisbane, while the town of Theodore was evacuaby soldiers with Black Hawk helicopters.

Billions of dollars of crops and farmland have been flooded, according to local MP Vaughan Johnson.

Floodwaters are expected to peak Friday at Emerald. Authorities warn the damage will exceed major floods there in early 2008 that forced 2,700 evacuations and caused more than 38 million euros of damage.

The town of Rockhampton may be evacuated later this week as further rain is forecast. The city's airport and all inbound roads and railways could be closed. Dalby, to the southwest, may run out of drinking water within two days after its water treatment plant was damaged. Local authorities are considering trucking in supplies.

Economists have estimated that the flooding could cost the economy as much as seven billion dollars in agricultural losses and delays to coal shipments.

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