Victorian towns facing one-in-200-year flood threat

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Melbourne, Jan.17 (ANI): Towns in the southern Australian state of Victoria were on Monday bracing for their biggest floods in 200 years as the death toll from the natural disaster in Queensland rose.

The western Victorian town of Horsham is facing the prospect of a one-in-200-year flood event when the swollen Wimmera River peaks.

Residents of the town, which lies 190 miles northwest of Melbourne and is home to 14,000 people, were rushing to protect their homes with sandbags as the swollen Wimmera River threatened 500 properties.

The river is expected to peak overnight at more than 13ft and could inundate another small 12 towns.

"This could be a one-in-200-year flood event. That's the worst case scenario but it could happen," State Emergency Service (SES) spokeswoman Natasha Duckett said.

Up to 500 properties in Horsham, a town of about 14,000 people in Victoria's wheat belt, 200km west of Melbourne, could be affected, she said.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she's waiting for advice from Premier Ted Baillieu about assistance the Government can give Victoria for its current flood crisis.

Around Victoria, more than 3500 people have fled their homes, 43 towns have been affected and more than 1400 properties have been flooded.

More towns could be affected later this week by the extreme rainfall that has battered the state, many of them having endured two other floods in the past five months.

Flooding has also spread into New South Wales, where nearly 7,000 people are reliant on airdrops of food and other supplies after being isolated by floodwaters.

The renewed crisis comes as Wayne Swan, the treasurer, said the widespread flooding, which has gripped Australia for almost one month, was the nation's most expensive natural disaster in history.

The flooding, which has affected Australia's mining, agriculture and tourism industries and washed away roads and rail lines as well as damaging thousands of properties, could cost the country up to 20 billion dollars, The Telegraph reports.

Queensland is still struggling to recover after floods the size of France and Germany combined killed at least 31 people and inundated scores of towns over the past three weeks. (ANI)

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