Rescuers save 20 people as floods sweep N Australia

AFP, SYDNEY

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 - Page 6

A teenaged boy was dramatically rescued from surging floodwaters as he clung to a tree yesterday, while others were plucked from stranded cars and homes as floods swept northeastern Australia.

Authorities said there were 20 water rescue cases across central Queensland overnight and early yesterday, after the remnants of tropical cyclone Oswald dumped huge amounts of rain around the coastal city of Rockhampton.

Rescues included those of a woman and two children trapped in a car isolated by flood waters, and seven people taken from two flooded homes.

Authorities said a teenaged boy was lucky to be alive after he was found clinging to a tree as muddy floodwaters surged around him at Frenchville, about 525km northwest of Brisbane, early yesterday.

“The current was so strong it just took him away,” station officer Brett Williams told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

The national broadcaster said the boy’s rescuer was himself swept under the waters after he transferred the teenager to waiting rescuers, but later bobbed up safely further down the swollen creek.

Cyclone Oswald, now downgraded, which was about 120km west of Mackay early yesterday, has flooded rivers and dumped enough rain to isolate towns, with Rockhampton on Thursday experiencing its biggest daily downpour since 1939.

“They’re saying this is not a cyclone, but it’s not far off it,” Rockhampton councilor Bill Ludwig told ABC, adding that parts of the city were under water and winds were “very destructive.”

A severe weather warning has been issued for parts of Queensland, with the Bureau of Meteorology saying that heavy rainfall could cause flash flooding in the state’s southeast, possibly reaching areas north of Brisbane by late yesterday.

“Six-hour rainfall accumulations of 100mm to 200mm are possible,” it said.