Australian Floods: Brisbane Homes Evacuated As Crisis Escalates


The devastating Queensland floods that have claimed at least nine lives in the past 24 hours and left 59 missing have hit the state's capital Brisbane, where thousands of residents have been warned to evacuate their homes.

There were fears that the extent of the flooding could exceed the levels of the 1974 flood, which killed 14 people and inundated more than 6,700 homes.

The emergency escalated quickly during the day, with more than 30 low-lying suburbs on high alert and inner-city suburbs including West End and Fortitude Valley being evacuated.

As the Brisbane River breached its banks in several place to engulf parks and footbridges and heavy rain continued to fall on the metropolitan area, the city's main roads and public transport system quickly became clogged as hundreds of people rushed to get to higher ground.

Many high-rise buildings in the city centre were evacuated and office workers were sent home early as the city centre effectively shut down.

Early estimates suggested that more than 9,000 homes could be inundated when the Brisbane River peaks at 12ft over the next two days. Campbell Newman, the Brisbane mayor, said 6,500 homes and businesses could experience seriously flooding.

By the afternoon, a disaster zone had been declared for south-east Queensland, giving police extra powers to force residents to evacuate if necessary.

Brisbane, which is Australia's third largest city and is home to two million people, was under siege on four fronts, with runoff from the flash flooding in the Lockyer Valley, large volumes of water running down the Brisbane River, a king tide and heavy rain combining to create what Julia Gillard, the prime minister, called "a very dire situation".

The threat to Brisbane comes after an inland tsunami swept through Toowoomba, 77 miles to the west of the Queensland capital, on Monday.