Hundreds trapped by Australia floods

Street sign partially submerged in Queensland, Australia.
Street sign partially submerged in Queensland, Australia.

VICTORIA — Helicopter rescue crews are trying to reach hundreds of people trapped by rising floodwaters in Bundaberg in the Australian state of Queensland.

Many people are trapped on roofs, but there are fears homes could be washed away by fast-moving waters after the Burnett River burst its banks.

Three people have already died in the Queensland flooding, after a cyclone brought heavy rain.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard offered her condolences to the families of victims.

Gillard was speaking in Gipsland, Victoria, where she was visiting people afflicted by the recent wildfires.

She said it had been a “tough period” for Queensland, and that the whole country was being “challenged by nature”.

“But we are a strong and smart nation and we’ll get through this, as we always do, by pulling together,” she said.

Bundaberg Mayor Mal Foreman said the floods would be “far worse” than those of late 2010 and early 2011, which left 35 people dead across Queensland, with Bundaberg among the towns affected.

In 2010, the Burnett River at Bundaberg reached 7.92 metres, but at 15:00 today, the river was at 9.2m and rising slowly, the Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement. (BBC)

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