One dead, three missing as tornadoes hit Queensland
One person has died and three others are feared drowned as tornadoes, torrential rain and severe flooding lash the Australian state of Queensland.
There were several tornadoes over the weekend in the central and southeast areas of the state, with at least five causing widespread destruction in the Wide Bay region alone.
But Queensland premier Campbell Newman said the floods would not be nearly as destructive as those that swept across the state two years ago, killing 35 people and costing Aus$6 billion (€4.65 billion) in reconstruction.
Three Australian army Black Hawk helicopters were deployed yesterday to help with flood evacuations in the town of Bundaberg, where the Burnett river has broken its banks.
“We expect overall about 300 homes and 100 businesses to be inundated in Bundaberg,” Mr Newman said.
An elderly man’s body was recovered from waters at Burnett Heads, while other people are missing in floodwaters near the towns of Maryborough and Gympie. Phone and internet services across northern and central Queensland were hit after a major cable was washed away, affecting thousands of customers and making it more difficult to warn people of weather conditions.
After police reports that some people were ignoring “road closed” signs, Mr Newman repeated warnings to stay out of floodwaters and limit travel in affected regions until the weather eases.
One of the missing people is a woman who was last seen driving into floodwaters near the town of Traveston on Saturday.
Australian prime minister Julia Gillard used Twitter to urge Queenslanders to check for updated warnings about the floods spreading across the state. “Thoughts of the nation are with people of Qld, who are battling a new round of natural disasters,” Ms Gillard wrote.
“Please listen to local warnings, keep updated on developments and take care.”
Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, is expecting a 2.6m (8.5ft) flood peak at about noon tomorrow and at the same time on Wednesday.
Under current projections, 3,600 homes could be flooded in Brisbane over the next two days. The city of Ipswich, 40km (25 miles) west of Brisbane, will see peak floodwaters at about midnight tonight. The peak is expected to be about 14m (46ft), compared to a 19.4m (64ft) peak in 2011.
The New South Wales state emergency service has warned residents to take precautions as the weather crosses over from Queensland in coming days.