Flooding In Australia's Queensland 'To Last Weeks'

Devastating flood waters across the Australian state of Queensland may not recede for weeks, the state's Premier Anna Bligh has warned.

More than 20 towns in Queensland have been cut off or flooded, with more than 200,000 people affected. Military aircraft are flying supplies into Rockhampton, which has been isolated by the still-rising waters.

The authorities have now confirmed three deaths caused by flood waters in the past few days. Ms Bligh has recalled ministers from holidays for crisis talks to plan the response to the flooding.

""Given the scale and size of this disaster, and the prospect that we will see waters sitting potentially for a couple of weeks, we will continue to have major issues to deal with throughout January,"" she said.

Her concern was echoed earlier by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, saying: ""This is a major natural disaster and recovery will take a significant amount of time.

""The extent of flooding being experienced by Queensland is unprecedented and requires a national and united response.""

Approximately 850,000 sq km have been affected, an area equivalent in size to France and Germany. Australian Red Cross executive director Greg Goebel said there were seven evacuation centres currently operating, generally in town halls, gymnasiums or schools, and the army were flying in supplies.

""It is a major disaster, it's a heartbreak for many, many thousands of people and will certainly take an enormous amount of time to get their communities back to normality,"" he told the BBC."