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23 August 2017
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Disaster declared as Australia flood death toll rises to 9

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Rescuers searching for dozens of people missing in floodwater west of Brisbane, Australia, have found another body, taking the death toll from recent torrential rain to nine, according to CNN.

Fifty-nine people remain missing after a wall of water swept through the town of Toowoomba, about 125 kilometers (80 miles) west of Brisbane, on Monday afternoon, overturning cars and swamping homes with little warning

By late Tuesday, three quarters of Queensland had been declared a disaster zone as the rain continued to fall and overwhelm creeks and rivers in the state`s south-east.

The Brisbane River, which runs through the capital, broke its banks as residents were warned to brace themselves for the worst flooding since 1974.

More than 6,500 homes were at risk of flooding in the next two days, according to forecasts issued by Brisbane City Council.

People in low-lying areas of the city were being urged to move to higher ground Tuesday, and residents were being offered sandbags to protect their property against potential damage.

An evacuation center has been set up in the city center to house people forced to abandon their homes.

In January 1974, 14 people died after the Brisbane River burst its banks after three weeks of heavy rain, flooding more than 6,000 homes.

"This flood event continues to develop and change at a frightening pace," Queensland Premier Anna Bligh told reporters Tuesday.

"As more rain continues to fall, local and state-level disaster management personnel are working to ensure the preparedness and safety of the community," she said.

Monday`s disaster in Toowoomba was being described as an unprecedented event, where residents received little or no warning of the wall of water racing towards them.

Amateur video showed a fast-flowing brown river of water tossing cars down the main street. Four of the nine victims were children who were trapped inside cars with their mothers.

"It was almost like a movie scene - I went to a car park, it`s a council car park - and we had cars stacked on top of each other," Toowoomba regional councillor Joe Ramia told national broadcaster, ABC.

By Hilary Whiteman, CNN

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