Australia flood victims can't go home

Last updated 11:06 31/01/2013

Aussie floods recede as death toll rises

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Thousands of people in the Queensland city worst-hit by Australia's devastating floods have been told they can't return home, as Prime Minister Julia Gillard prepares to announce disaster relief funding for the city.

Bundaberg has been under water for days after Cyclone Oswald swept over the state and neighbouring New South Wales, bringing floods, heavy rain and damaging winds.

The death toll for the floods has risen to six, with the discovery of the body of a second farm worker missing west of Brisbane since Sunday, while water police are still searching for a fisherman missing near Rockhampton since Thursday

An exclusion zone has been set up in the suburb of North Bundaberg until all homes are checked and declared safe, and Mark Jackson from the district disaster group has asked the 7000 people who live in the area to comply.

"We've got police in here to enforce that," he told ABC radio.

"We don't know what the situation is there, but we do know there is a high extent of damage there. It is not a safe place to be and we're expecting people's co-operation."

Meanwhile, soldiers have been sent to help with the clean up at Gayndah and Mundubbera, west of Bundaberg.

North Burnett Mayor Don Waugh flew over Mundubbera and said the damage was worse than originally thought.

"We thought at first it was 60 houses that were inundated," he told ABC radio.

"The last count was well over a hundred. From the air the devastation is so very obvious."

A water shortage crisis has been averted in Brisbane, with restrictions set to be lifted across the region tonight.

The city was at risk of losing tap water after silt from the Lockyer Valley floods west of Brisbane forced the closure of its main treatment plant at Mount Crosby.

In New South Wales no further evacuations were ordered overnight and the State Emergency Service has shifted its focus to re-supplying isolated communities, like Yamba and Iluka at the mouth of the Clarence River, with food and medicine.

More than 1000 flood evacuees were expected to return home over the next few days while about 23,000 people remain isolated.

"There will need to be some assessments made once the water levels drop just to make sure it's safe for them to return," an SES spokesman said.

More than 4000 calls for assistance were received by the SES since the deluge brought by Oswald began.

- Brisbane Times and AAP

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