Three die in Queensland flooding

Last updated 05:00 28/01/2013

A young child and two women are airlifted to safety after their car became trapped in fast-rising flood waters in the Australian state of Queensland. Rough cut (no reporter narration).

storm
Fairfax Australia
KEEN: Queensland residents get drenched as they watch the storm surge.

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Queensland is in the grip of another extraordinary flood crisis, as cities and towns across the state go under.

Three people are dead and residents in Brisbane are being warned to brace for the worst as 3600 residential properties and 1250 businesses are expected to experience flooding later Monday.

Stressing that the situation facing Brisbane is not as bad as it was in 2011, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has told residents in the firing line that now is the time to "take action", with many opting to move their possessions and seek higher ground.

Meanwhile, dramatic rescues are under way in Bundaberg, where the city's worst flood on record has left dozens of people trapped on rooftops.

At least 1200 properties are already flooded in Bundaberg, with fears that could reach 2000.

The communities of Gympie and Maryborough are also under water.

There is also a major flood crisis developing in the Lockyer Valley, where 19 lives were lost in the state's 2011 floods.

So far, three flood deaths have been confirmed: an 81-year-old man whose body was pulled from the water near Bundaberg, a 27-year-old wheelchair-bound man who was found near Gympie, and a third person, believed to be a male motorcyclist, who was swept off the road at Greenbank, near Ipswich. Police confirmed a body had been found in Oxley Creek about 7am.

In Bundaberg, entire suburbs have been evacuated but some people waited too long and about 30 are stranded on rooftops in atrocious conditions that are preventing rescuers from reaching them.

The situation in the city is now so bad that police are advising people trapped in homes in north Bundaberg to seek refuge on the roof.

"If your house is currently inundated with water and you require rescuing, you are either to make your way to the roof if safe - I repeat - if safe," Senior Sergeant Grant Marcus said in an urgent public alert issued this morning.

"Alternatively find a way by which you can hail rescue helicopters which are currently hovering over your area."

Choppers with winching gear are battling to get to those already on the rooftops.

There were higher than expected falls in waterways that feed into the Brisbane River, downstream of the protective Wivenhoe dam, overnight.

“Queensland is facing a very serious challenge right now,” Newman said, with Laidley, Lockyer Creek and Bremer River standing as a “grave concern this morning”.

“If their properties are on [the flood maps] I must say this morning you must take action."

As water poured into homes and businesses in Queensland, the effects of the weather pattern delivered by Oswald began to shift south, with a deluge forecast for Sydney.

The weather bureau issued a severe weather warning for parts of NSW, with heavy rainfall and winds of up to 140kmh expected. Up to 300 millimetres of rain could fall in areas of Sydney over 24 hours from this morning, the bureau said.

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- The Age

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