The worst flooding in Australia in a century has left 30 people dead, 78 others missing in the state of Queensland, as thousands fled its capital Brisbane to escape a tsunami—like tidal wave.
As torrential rain continued to pelt down, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh warned that flooding in Brisbane, a city of two million, would be worse than the 1974 disaster that killed 14 people and devastated much of the city.
More than 9,000 properties were set to be inundated, and another 30,000 will be hit to some degree by the intensifying flooding.
Waters from rain triggered flash floods rushed to the city as authorities declared an emergency as two major towns Brisbane, the third most populous city in Australia and Ipswich were threatened. Three—quarters of the state has now been declared a disaster zone, ‘The Australian’ said.
Ten people were killed in the last 24 hours, taking the overall casulaty figure to 30 due to heavy rains and flash floods. The floods have been made worse by the Brisbane river bursting its embankment threatening 6,500 houses in the city, the city’s mayor Lord Cambell Newman said.
“Today it is tolerable, tomorrow is going to be bad and Thursday is going to be devastating,” Newman said as ever swelling waters were moving towards the city.
The exodus from the city began by bus, train and car, a day after flash floods washed away large parts of the valley town Toowoomba, 125 kms west of Australia’s Great Dividing Range. Rainwaters gushed with such ferocity that they appeared like tsunami waves throwing up houses, cars and trees like toys.
Acute foodstuff shortages have already been reported from the city with a population of over 2 million with bread, milk, battery, bottled water and candles being reported sold out.
Military helicopters soared in the sky monitoring the passage of swollen waters as Queensland’a emotional premier Anna Bligh said more deaths were expected from flash floods as rescuers were prevented from evacuating and saving people due to turbulent weather conditions.
"We are faced with a frightening ordeal,” she said as rescuers were yet to reach villages cut off by rain.
The “unprecedented” floods smashed through Queensland state as 150 ml of rain from freak storm turned into a raging stream, hurling gallons of water down the Lockyer valley, uprooting homes and trees.
“The nation does need to brace itself for the fact that the death toll as a result of yesterday’s flash flooding and walls of water is likely to rise,” Gillard was qouted by media reports.