Queensland was today in the grip of another extraordinary flood crisis, with three people dead, helicopters rescuing residents from roofs, and cities and towns facing inundation.
Dramatic rescues were underway in Bundaberg, where the city’s worst flood on record left dozens of people trapped on rooftops.
Authorities later ordered people in flood-hit north Bundaberg to leave their homes, warning their lives were at risk.
At least 1200 Bundaberg properties were already flooded this morning, and there were fears that number could reach 2000.
The communities of Gympie and Maryborough were also being inundated following the torrential downpour caused by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.
There is also a major flood crisis developing in the Lockyer Valley, where 19 lives were lost in the state’s 2011 floods.
Brisbane and Ipswich are bracing for flooding expected tonight, with further flood peaks expected tomorrow and Wednesday.
As Oswald moves south, about 2000 people have been cut off by floodwaters in northern NSW, where heavy rain and winds of up to 140km/h are battering the region.
A weather station near Mullumbimby recorded almost 540mm of rain in 24 hours.
So far, three flood deaths have been confirmed – those of an 81-year-old man whose body was pulled from the water near Bundaberg, a 27-year-old man who tried to cross a flooded creek near Gympie, and a motorcyclist swept away trying to cross a bridge in the Oxley Creek south of Brisbane last night.
A three-year-old boy is also in a critical condition with head injuries after a tree fell on him and his mother on Brisbane’s northside. His 30-year-old mother is also being treated in hospital for head injuries.
In Bundaberg, entire suburbs were evacuated but some people waited too long and about 30 were stranded on rooftops in atrocious conditions prevented rescuers from reaching them.
Premier Campbell Newman said the situation in Bundaberg was “very serious” and six helicopters with winching capabilities were rescuing at least 30 people from rooftops.
“There is an expectation today of a major flood, probably the largest the city has ever seen,” Mr Newman said.
The Burnett River, which cuts Bundaberg in two, was at 8.9m at 7am today and rising rapidly.
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