Sydney (AFP) Nov 7, 2009
Australian authorities declared a natural disaster along parts of the country's east coast Saturday as heavy floods cut the main road linking major cities, stranding thousands of people.
Torrential rain soaked the Coffs Harbour region north of Sydney overnight, swamping the arterial Pacific Highway with flash floodwaters that isolated almost 5,000 people, emergency officials said.
About 40 people had to be evacuated from the area hit by the raging floods and New South Wales emergency services minister Steve Whan declared a natural disaster, releasing state funds.
More than 500 millimetres (20 inches) of rain had fallen in the past two days, Whan said, in the fifth major flooding incident to hit the region this year.
"I guess one of the things we've seen predicted from climate change consistently is that the rain and the weather events will come in more storms and more short-term deluges," he said.
"Unfortunately that's the pattern that we seem to be seeing this year in the area."
Floodwaters were expected to peak at five metres (yards) at Coffs Harbour on Saturday afternoon before easing, the State Emergency Service said, describing as "drastic" the cumulative effect of recent downpours.
"Weather conditions have eased considerably over the last few hours. However, we still have some 4,800 people isolated by floodwaters in a number of north-coast communities," said SES spokesman Phil Campbell.
Intense storms hit the east coast late last month, generating more than 10,000 lightning strikes and disrupting train and flight services.
Tens of thousands of homes and businesses were blacked out and a man was killed when his car hit a tree in torrential rains.
more flood reports
A further 11 people were still listed as missing after the Tropical Depression struck Monday, bringing the most devastating floods in decades to some areas, the national flood and storm control committee said in a report.
Most of the dead were from the country's easternmost province of Phu Yen, where 72 fatalities were recorded.
River levels were receding Friday, Duong Van Huong, head of the provincial storm and flood committee, told AFP. However, rescue activities were still being conducted by boat in certain hard-hit areas, the committee said.
"Some 200,000 students in Phu Yen are still unable to go to school", Huong said.
On Thursday, Communist Party Secretary General Nong Duc Manh visited neighbouring Binh Dinh province, also badly affected, making sure local authorities provide residents with food, drinking water and medicine.
Some 6,300 soldiers have been mobilised for the rescue effort, according to the national committee.
Mirinae also killed two people in Vietnam's neighbour Cambodia and left 27 people dead in the Philippines, where thousands are still living in evacuation centres after a series of deadly storms this typhoon season.
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Vietnam flood toll rises to 98
Hanoi (AFP) Nov 5, 2009
The number of people killed by floods in central Vietnam rose to 98 Thursday, as rescuers ferried emergency aid by helicopter to coastal regions battered by Tropical Storm Mirinae, officials said. A further 20 people were listed as missing after the storm struck on Monday bringing the worst floods in decades to some areas, the national flood and storm control committee said. Most of the ... read more
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