30 killed in Oz as flood `tsunami` threatens Brisbane

The deluge has been blamed on a La Nina weather pattern in the Pacific.

Updated: Jan 11, 2011, 23:51 PM IST

Melbourne: The worst flooding in
Australia in a century has left 30 people dead, 78 others
missing in the state of Queensland, as thousands fled its
capital Brisbane to escape a tsunami-like tidal wave, prompting
premier Julia Gillard to deploy the military in the region.

As torrential rain continued to pelt down, Queensland
Premier Anna Bligh warned that flooding in Brisbane, a city of
two million, would be worse than the 1974 disaster that killed
14 people and devastated much of the city.

Gillard on Tuesday announced full resources of the
Australian military to tackle flood crisis in Queensland.

More than 9,000 properties were set to be inundated,
and another 30,000 will be hit to some degree by the
intensifying flooding.

Waters from rain triggered flash floods rushed to the
city as authorities declared an emergency as two major towns
Brisbane, the third most populous city in Australia and
Ipswich were threatened. Three-quarters of the state has now
been declared a disaster zone, `The Australian` said.

Ten people were killed in the last 24 hours, taking
the overall casualty figure to 30 due to heavy rains and flash
floods. The floods have been made worse by the Brisbane river
bursting its embankment threatening 6,500 houses in the city,
the city`s mayor Lord Cambell Newman said.

"Today it is tolerable, tomorrow is going to be bad
and Thursday is going to be devastating," Newman said as ever
swelling waters were moving towards the city.

The exodus from the city began by bus, train and car,
a day after flash floods washed away large parts of the valley
town Toowoomba, 125 kms west of Australia`s Great Dividing
Range. Rainwaters gushed with such ferocity that they appeared
like tsunami waves throwing up houses, cars and trees like
toys.

Acute foodstuff shortages have already been reported
from the city with a population of over 2 million with bread,
milk, battery, bottled water and candles being reported sold
out.

Military helicopters soared in the sky monitoring the
passage of swollen waters as Queensland`a emotional premier
Anna Bligh said more deaths were expected from flash floods as
rescuers were prevented from evacuating and saving people due
to turbulent weather conditions.

"We are faced with a frightening ordeal," she said as
rescuers were yet to reach villages cut off by rain.

The "unprecedented" floods smashed through Queensland
state as 150 ml of rain from freak storm turned into a raging
stream, hurling gallons of water down the Lockyer valley,
uprooting homes and trees.

"The nation does need to brace itself for the fact
that the death toll as a result of yesterday`s flash flooding
and walls of water is likely to rise," Gillard was quoted by
media reports.

PTI