Australia floods: Brisbane residents urged to evacuate

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Brisbane (Australia), Jan.11 (ANI): Authorities in Queensland are urging people to leave parts of Brisbane, the country's third largest city, Brisbane, in the wake of floods said to be one of the worst in decades.

Brisbane Mayor Campbell Newman said that at least 6,500 homes and businesses could be swamped by floodwaters.

With waters of the Brisbane River level going up by nearly five feet on Tuesday, Campbell said: "Today is very significant, tomorrow is bad, and Thursday is going to be devastating for the residents and businesses affected."

The Brisbane River snakes its way through the center of Brisbane, and in places, it has burst its banks already, the BBC reports.

Cars have been streaming out of the city and office workers have been fleeing the main business district, while lower lying suburbs have already been inundated by water. Sandbags have been given out to residents in the city of two million people, as the flooding is expected to peak on Wednesday and Thursday.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh urged people to prepare themselves.

"For those who are living in some of the lower lying areas and the identified suburbs, now is the time to be making whatever preparations you can, and I would encourage you to be overly cautious," Bligh said.

Brisbane residents said that supermarkets were already running out of food.

In Toowoomba, just west of Brisbane, flash floods have killed at least nine people with at least 70 missing.

A huge search-and-rescue operation has been mounted, with helicopters taking people to safety, as many residents clinging to trees or railings for their lives, or trapped in cars or on the roofs of buildings.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has warned that the death toll is likely to rise. (ANI)

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