Flooding investigation launched down under

Queensland
Premier Anna Bligh has launched an inquiry into flooding that has devastated
swathes of the Australian state.

Ms
Bligh said the inquiry will look at issues including the operation of dams and
would serve as an investment in the state’s future.

Treasurer
Wayne Swan has warned the floods could be the costliest natural disaster in
Australia’s history.

Further
south, the state of Victoria is also braced for floods.

Water
has already swamped some of the state’s northern towns and is threatening 1,400
homes in 43 others. Some 3,500 people have left their homes so far.

Announcing
the $14.8 million Commission of Inquiry, Premier Anna Bligh said the time had
come to “forensically examine” the chain of events.

She
said that the commission, which will deliver an interim report in August and
full findings in a year, would assess warning systems, government planning and
the emergency response.

One
of the deputy commissioners will be a dam expert. Questions have been raised as
to why water levels in the Wivenhoe dam – west of Brisbane – were not reduced
in preparation for the flooding.

So
far 20 people have been killed an ten others are still missing.

Flash
floods hit the Lockyer valley area west of Brisbane on 10 January, before flood
waters moved to Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city.

Dozens
of suburbs were submerged and residents are continuing to clean up swathes of
mud and debris.

Treasurer
Wayne Swan has warned of a severe financial impact.

“It
looks like this is possibly going to be, in economic terms, the largest natural
disaster in our history,” he said.

The
floods have been blamed on the La Nina weather pattern in the Pacific.

Rivers
have also burst their banks across parts of the state of Victoria. The town of
Horsham, 187 miles northwest of Melbourne, was expecting its worst flooding in
200 years.

WORLDfloodsSTORY

It could take years be-fore some areas of the flood ravaged country recover.
Photo: dailymail.co.uk
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