Australia Floodwaters Still Rising


Floodwaters are still rising in parts of Queensland, Australia, and water levels are not expected to peak until mid-week, officials said Sunday.

Many areas of the city of Rockhampton near the east coast have been swamped and could remain that way for the next couple of weeks.

Floodwaters in Rockhampton and other communities aren't expected to peak until Tuesday or Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of people in the state have already been forced from their homes. In all, about 200,000 people are affected and 22 towns and cities are under water or isolated.

Water from overflowing rivers is covering an estimated 900,000 square kilometres, an area roughly the size of British Columbia, or at least half the size of Queensland.

Greg Gobel , executive director of the Australian Red Cross in Brisbane, said access has been completely cut off to Rockhampton, a city of 75,000.

""The waters are expected to peak at about 9.4 metres, so the airport will go under,"" he said. ""Roads and rail have already been cut off and, in fact, the only people getting into the town now are through helicopters, and even now they're restricting the airspace.""

The last plane took off from the Rockhampton airport on Saturday afternoon before the facility closed.