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Devastating floods strike Queensland, disaster declared (VIDEO)

Published time: January 27, 2013 09:18
Edited time: January 27, 2013 15:34

People look at a boat that has been washed up onto rocks at Airlie Beach located around 120 km (75 miles) south-east of the city of Townsville in Queensland January 25, 2013. Heavy rains - the remnants of Tropical Storm Oswald - caused some major highways and dozens of roads to be cut off, isolating towns and flooding properties, according to local authorities. (Reuters/Bon Fenney)

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Floods have wreaked havoc in Bundaberg on Australian’s east coast, causing hundreds of homes to be evacuated. Six tornadoes have already brought about at least one death in the northeastern state of Queensland as authorities declare a disaster.

­An elderly man was found dead following heavy flooding which has devastated the area in the aftermath of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.

The damage is absolutely extraordinary – trees have been shredded, leaves thrown everywhere, trees pulled down, power lines pulled down, and a series of serious car accidents,” Jessie Grayson told Australia’s Ten News.

Army helicopters were called in to aid with the unfolding crisis. Eight people have already been airlifted from danger zones. Only one fisherman was found on Sunday morning, after two were reported missing following a skipper's emergency call in the early hours of Thursday morning, saying that the boat was taking on water.

An emergency evacuation warning was issued in Bundaberg, north of Brisbane, after the Burnett River’s banks broke on Sunday afternoon. It is expected to peak at more than 9 meters, topping the levels recorded in the 2010/2011 floods. The town of Gladstone is also preparing for the possibility of major floods, and 400 properties have been evacuated.

Up to 300mm of rainfall is expected in the next 24 hours, and in some areas it may even reach 400mm, according to Queensland weather services manager Richard Wardle. The flooding has blocked more than 70 roads, including major highway since Oswald was downgraded to a storm, after crossing Cape York Peninsula’s west coast on Tuesday.

Destructive wind gusts of up to 120km/h and further tornados are likely, according to the Australian weather bureau.

The State Emergency Service has reportedly received over 300 calls for help in the Queensland region.

The Australasia and South-East Asia region is no stranger to the severe rainfall, and Indonesia has been plagued with sporadic flooding, leaving parts of Jakarta submerged for weeks and, most recently, killing nine on Sumatra Island. Indonesia is taking measures to circumvent their proneness to flooding, such as employing a Hercules plane to carry out cloud seeding measures, which will force approaching clouds to rain at sea before they arrive over the country.

As the floods swamp Indonesia and northeastern Australia, Australia’s south is falling victim to violent bushfires. The Country Fire Authority reported an out-of-control blaze, also on Sunday, which has destroyed 750 hectares of and is heading towards the community of Boho, near Benalla in northeast Victoria. The sparks from the fire is igniting fresh fires 1km ahead of itself.

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