Australia - floods

Brisbane residents flee rising flood waters

An aerial view of the rising Brisbane River is seen in the southern suburbs of Brisbane
An aerial view of the rising Brisbane River is seen in the southern suburbs of Brisbane Reuters

Thousands of people were forced to flee Australia’s third largest city, Brisbane on Tuesday after the Brisbane River burst its banks. Residents were bracing themselves for the worst floods in 120 years and authorities warn that 6,500 homes and businesses are at risk.

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Heavy rains caused several fatalities in the nearby town of Toowomba when flash floods devastated the hillside city, mayor Peter Taylor told RFI.

“Yesterday afternoon, some 24 hours ago, we had a major deluge of water, it just rained and rained. It caused flash floods, a tidal wave, almost a tsunami,” said Taylor.

He said cars, people, trees and equipment were washed into gutters which saw water levels rise suddenly.

In Brisbane, residents have been fleeing the city by bus, train and car as flood alerts have been issued in dozens of suburbs. Rescue teams have also air-lifted hundreds of residents out of outlying towns.

“Water is on its way,” said Brisbane Mayor Campbell Newman. "Today is very significant, tomorrow is bad, and Thursday is going to be devastating for the residents and businesses concerned," he added.

Residents have stripped the shelves of shops bare, buying up provisions of food ahead of the rising waters.

"At our local supermarket queues, at all 12 tills, were at least 50-60 people deep and all essentials were sold out - perishables and non-perishables," Brisbane lawyer Paul Betros told RFI. "There was no bread, milk, batteries, bottled water, candles. The bakery had sold out of bread and was closing," he added.

The overall death toll stood at 20 on Tuesday, after the sudden loss of the death in Toowomba. The floods have swamped large swathes of land in the state of Queensland, forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes and crippling the state’s economy and lucrative mining industry.

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