More deaths feared in Australia floods

2012-03-05 09:00

Sydney - The death toll from flooding in Australia's south-east could rise to three after a car with two men inside was washed off a highway in south-east Queensland.

A 43-year-old man died last week in similar circumstances at Braidwood in New South Wales.

Thousands of families are in evacuation centres after some of the biggest downpours since the 1920s turned rivers into raging torrents.

The rain overwhelmed water storage systems with reservoirs in Sydney and Canberra brim-full and overflowing for the first time in decades.

Small farming towns were evacuated after waters swirled across floodplains, submerging roads and cutting off thousands of pastoral properties in the interior.

Houses go under

"There are trees down, power is out, power lines are down," Mel Churchill, a spokesperson for emergency services in Hervey Bay, Queensland, told the national broadcaster ABC. "We're recommending people don't travel unless it's an absolute emergency."

Hervey Bay is 300km north of Brisbane, the state capital.

Soldiers have been drafted to help with sandbagging in the north of the state of Victoria.

At Numurkah, a town of 4 600 people a three-hour drive north of Melbourne, 40 houses have gone under and patients have been evacuated from the hospital.

Flood levels in Numurkah are higher than the peaks of 1974 and 1993.