Australia floodwaters still rising, police search for missing
BEENLEIGH, Australia — Floodwaters were still rising in eastern Australia on Sunday as emergency workers battled to restore water and electricity supplies in regions hardest hit by a powerful tropical cyclone.
At least two people are dead and several missing after torrential rain inundated large areas of Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) states, flooding homes and forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
Category four Cyclone Debbie smashed into Queensland on Tuesday between Bowen and Airlie, ripping up trees and causing widespread damage that is still being assessed.
It was downgraded to a tropical low as it tracked southeast still packing high winds and dumping huge amounts of rain all down the east coast to Sydney and beyond before blowing out over the Tasman Sea.
The bodies of two women were found in NSW on Friday. Another three people were confirmed dead on Saturday but police are still investigating whether their deaths were flood-related.
“The water busted the door open and dad started to have a panic attack,” the son of one of the victims, a 46-year-old man from Murwillumbah in northeastern NSW, told the Courier Mail newspaper.
“He fell down and it sounded like he was snoring, but he stopped breathing.”
There are also fears for three other people missing in flood-affected areas in Queensland, with police continuing to search for them Sunday.
Even as skies begin to clear, numerous towns are still on flood alert and some regions remain under water.
The military and emergency personnel are working to restore essential services such as water and electricity in towns that were in the direct path of Debbie.
“Debbie is not done with us yet,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said as she visited Rockhampton in central-eastern Queensland on Saturday.
The Insurance Council of Australia has declared the Queensland and northern NSW regions disaster zones, estimating the damage bill could reach Aus$1 billion (US $770 million). CBB/rga
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