New floods in Australia

2012-03-08 09:51

Sydney - Australia's sodden southeast was hit with new flooding on Thursday as Sydney was lashed by its heaviest rainfall in five years and the inland town of Forbes was inundated.

Large tracts of New South Wales state are under water, with Sydney feeling the force of a La Nina weather system as an estimated 119mm of rain fell on the city - the highest daily total since 2007.

"There has been very, very heavy rain and some very strong winds," a Bureau of Meteorology spokesperson said.

The downpour sparked widespread flash flooding, forced the closure of railway lines and dozens of roads, and prompted power cuts to at least 300 properties.

Many flights from Sydney were delayed or cancelled and many of the central business district's major roads were swamped.

Water continued to rise

Forbes, in the state's west, was cut in three by flooding with about 1 000 people ordered to leave their homes as the Lachlan River continued to rise.

"Evacuation orders are in place for low-lying areas of Forbes and the SES has been door-knocking to advise residents of the need to evacuate," the State Emergency Services (SES) said.

Heavy rain and flooding has hit three eastern states throughout the week, sweeping two men to their deaths after they attempted to cross waterways in cars, inundating hundreds of homes and causing millions of dollars in damage.

"We're totally surrounded in the CBD by water," Forbes Mayor Phyllis Miller told national broadcaster ABC.

Parts of rural Victoria state are also struggling, with all residents from the northern town of Nathalia evacuated as floodwaters breached both its main levees.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said it was too early to establish the cost of the floods, although some estimates have put it as high as Aus$1bn.

Swan said he expects there will be a significant impact on the New South Wales agricultural sector.

"Certainly here in terms of agriculture there will be a significant impact, but in terms of impact more widely, it's far too early to tell," Swan told ABC radio.

Read more on:    australia  |  weather  |  floods
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