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Hundreds evacuated as flood disaster unfolds in northeastern Australia

Hundreds evacuated as flood disaster unfolds in northeastern Australia
Published December 18, 2023 Updated December 18, 2023 Bookmark Bookmark Share WhatsApp Telegram Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

CAIRNS — Stranded residents sheltered on a hospital roof as flash floods swamped northeastern Australia on Monday (Dec 18), with raging waters severing roads and flushing crocodiles into towns. 

Rescue teams evacuated more than 200 people overnight, police said, and military helicopters have been dispatched to help inundated areas cut off by the floods.

The state of Queensland has been pummelled by damaging winds and driving rain after Tropical Cyclone Jasper made landfall late last week.  

With more rain expected Monday, Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick said the unfolding disaster would have a “billion-dollar impact” on the state. 

Nine people, including a seven-year-old patient, huddled for safety on the roof of a hospital in the largely Aboriginal settlement of Wujal Wujal. 

“We know that those people are in a desperate way now,” said Ms Kiley Hanslow, the chief executive of the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council. 

“The patient is a 7-year-old boy. They need to get him off the roof and get him warm again,” she told national broadcaster ABC. 

Ms Hanslow said the town of 300 was a “sea of dirty water and mud”. 

“There’s also crocodiles swimming around in that water now,” she added.

Crocodiles have also been spotted lurking in floodwaters in the rural town of Ingham, local politician Nick Dametto said. 

The tourist hub of Cairns has been almost completely surrounded by the floods, which have washed over the major highways running into the city of 150,000 people. 

Floodwaters lapped at the wings of planes parked at the Cairns international airport on Sunday. 

“This level of rainfall is next level,” Queensland Premier Steven Miles told reporters on Monday.  

“We deployed literally every boat we could get our hands on in Cairns to evacuate those who couldn’t safely evacuate themselves.” AFP