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World News

More than 300 evacuated after flooding hits towns along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef | World News

today18/12/2023

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More than 300 people have been rescued after floodwaters in northern Australia, with dozens of residents clinging to roofs, officials said.

Heavy rain linked to ex-tropical cyclone Jasper lashed northern regions of Queensland state, bringing months of rain within a few hours over the weekend, official data showed.

The state, home to more than 150,000 people, received around 600mm (24in) of rain over 40 hours through early Monday morning – more than triple the December average of 182mm (7.17in).

Several towns popular with tourists along the coast near the Great Barrier Reef were cut off.

A partially-submerged plane at Cairns Airport. Pic: AP
Image:
A partially-submerged plane at Cairns Airport. Pic: AP

Cairns Airport was closed on Monday due to flooding and authorities were concerned the city of 160,000 people could lose drinking water.

“We see a lot of natural disasters and this is just about the worst I can remember,” Queensland state premier Steven Miles told ABC television.

“The problem is rain won’t stop and until it eases up, we can’t get aerial support into remote places.”

People ride boats on a flooded river in Cairns. Pic: AP
Image:
People ride boats on a flooded river in Cairns. Pic: AP

Queensland state Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll described the flooding as “absolutely devastating,” and added: “Last night, we had an extraordinarily challenging, challenging evening, rescuing some 300 people.”

There were no deaths or serious injuries, she said.

All 300 residents would be evacuated by helicopter from the Aboriginal community of Wujal Wujal, where nine adults and a seven-year-old child spent hours overnight on a hospital roof, officials said.

A crocodile was spotted in a swollen drain in the town of Ingham, about 250km (155 miles) south of Cairns, and authorities warned residents not to swim in floodwaters.

Read more from Sky News:
61 people found dead in ‘shipwreck’ off Libyan coast – UN agency
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Water gushes through the Barron River in Cairns, Queensland
Image:
Water gushes through the Barron River in Cairns, Queensland

Emergency workers evacuating people from flood waters in Queensland
Image:
Emergency workers evacuating people

The weather bureau has forecast more rain through Monday, with some regions expected to see up to 300mm of rainfall in under six hours.

Major flood warnings have been issued, with rivers set to break records set in 1977.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australian defence forces had been put on standby for rescue and relief efforts.

Australia is experiencing an El Nino phenomenon, which can bring extreme weather phenomena from wildfires to tropical cyclones and prolonged droughts.



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