Rescuers battle Australia floods

28 January 2013 Last updated at 23:13 ET Aerial shot of Bundaberg on 29 January 2013 State Premier Campbell Newman called the scene at Bundaberg “extraordinary” Australia is battling flooding in two states, as rescue teams worked to evacuate people from inundated areas.

In Queensland, more than 1,000 people were plucked to safety in the city of Bundaberg as the Burnett River burst its banks, flooding 2,000 homes.

In New South Wales there are concerns that the Clarence River, at a record high, could flood the city of Grafton.

Tropical Cyclone Oswald, which triggered the flooding, is now heading out to sea south of Sydney.

Four people are now known to have died in the severe weather, after a toddler who was hit by a falling tree in Brisbane died on Monday.

It comes two years after severe flooding in southern Queensland, including in the state capital Brisbane, that left 35 people dead and tens of thousands of homes flooded.

‘Dangerous situation’ Map

In Bundaberg the Burnett River was at 9.475m and rising slowly, the Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement, with a peak up to 9.6m expected later in the day – more than 1.5m above the December 2010 flood level.

“Those flood levels will be one of the highest levels recorded for the whole of the Bundaberg and Burnett region,” said Queensland Police Minister Jack Dempsey.

“The main priority at the moment on the ground is life and we really do implore people to go to the highest points, listen to the emergency service workers and their directions.”

Some 7,500 people are reported to have been displaced across the city, with more than 1,500 in evacuation centres.

Helicopter teams have picked up more than 1,000 people stranded by flood waters amid fears that houses could be washed away.

A property and electric pylons partly submerged in floodwaters in the town of Lismore, NSW, on 29 January 2013 Oswald moved south to New South Wales on Monday, bringing torrential rain

“I think the bravery of the air crew and the helicopters, both civilian and defence force who worked all yesterday afternoon and into the night evacuating people in quite difficult circumstances is what saved the day,” said Queensland State Premier Campbell Newman.

Two air force transport planes are evacuating patients from the local hospital and Prime Minister Julia Gillard said 100 military personnel were being sent to help out.

In Brisbane, low-lying parts of the central business district were flooded but the impact on residential areas was less than expected, ABC News said.

In New South Wales, parts of which saw torrential rain on Monday as the cyclone moved south, 2,500 people were told to evacuate in the city of Grafton, where levees were threatened by rising water.

“We are in a dangerous situation that requires a timely response and I think the best thing to do is to evacuate,” said Mayor Richie Williamson.

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