Four die as floods strike eastern Australia


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The Independent Online

Torrential downpours have left thousands of homes flooded in eastern Australia, with more rain and high winds expected in Queensland and New South Wales.

The disaster has claimed four lives, including a three-year-old boy who was hit by a falling tree in the Queensland state capital, Brisbane.

Officials were preparing for another day of evacuations along the eastern coast, where hundreds of homes have been cut off by floodwaters.

State Emergency Services Deputy Commissioner Steve Pearce said that some areas in northern New South Wales had been hit by more than 20 inches of rain, with more than 2,000 people isolated by floods.

"We're expecting flash flooding, we're expecting trees to be brought down, wires to be brought down by these winds," he said. "We're expecting a very challenging 24 hours in front of us."

Floods have also cut off all roads between New South Wales and Queensland.

More than 2,000 homes are underwater in the worst-affected city of Bundaberg 240 miles to the north of Brisbane. The same area was hit by serious flooding two years ago, leaving 35 dead.

Military helicopters with pilots using night vision equipment were being used to evacuate stranded residents.