Worst is yet to come in Australia

The
Australian city of Brisbane has woken to widespread flooding, although the peak
level is a metre lower than feared, officials say.

The
Brisbane River peaked at 14.6ft just before 0530 (1930GMT Wednesday), compared
with 17.7f) in the 1974 floods.

However,
dozens of suburbs and thousands of homes are inundated.

The
death toll in Queensland’s flooding stands at 12 so far, with at least 43 more
reported missing.

Prime
Minister Julia Gillard called the disaster’s scale “mind-boggling”.

Queensland
Premier Anna Bligh said: “We are now in the grip of a very serious natural
disaster.

“We
are now seeing thousands of homes inundated with water up to the roof. Many,
many more are expected to see significant water damage.”

She
said 20,000 to 30,000 people would be affected in Brisbane, a city of two
million.

Water
levels will be high during Thursday but are not expected to exceed 14.6ft.

 The levels will only slowly recede over the
weekend.

Although
below the 1974 level, Ms Bligh said: “This is still a major event; the
city is much bigger, much more populated and has many parts under flood that
didn’t even exist in 1974.

“We
are still looking at an event which will cripple parts of our city.”

The
central district is still in danger given Thursday’s high sea tide.

However,
the Wivenhoe and Somerset dams have now reduced the amount of water they are
being forced to release to ease pressure, and this should help cut the overall
flood peak.

The
city’s South Brisbane and West End districts have already been badly hit. In
all, more than 50 suburbs and 2,100 roads could be left under water.

West
of Brisbane in the city of Ipswich, the Bremer river peaked at 19.4m on
Wednesday.

About
1,000 homes were inundated and 7,500 more affected, the Queensland Times
reported.

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