Queensland flood clean-up to take 'up to a year'

Clean-up crews toiled under more pounding rains yesterday to clear mountains of debris in flood-ravaged communities across north-eastern Australia, as one mayor said it could take his city up to a year to recover from the worst floods in decades.

Officials were only beginning to see the scope of the damage as river levels across Queensland started to fall despite new thunderstorms. Floodwaters were expected to stay high in many areas for at least another week, and officials warned residents to stay far away from their waterlogged homes.

The mayor of Rockhampton, Brad Carter, warned that the city of 75,000 people was in for a long clean-up: "This could drag on for 12 months," he said.

Four thousand people across Queensland have been evacuated from their homes since the rains began just before Christmas.