Flooding spreads to southern Australia

11:53, 18 January 2011
World
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The latest wave of flooding...

Helicopters flew into remote areas of southern Australia on Tuesday to reach residents isolated by flooding, an emergency official said, according to CNN.

The latest wave of flooding to hit Australia is having a "huge" impact in Victoria state, said Ray Jasper, incident commander for emergency services there.

"We have houses inundated. We have a lot of isolated rural properties," he said, noting that helicopters would likely be delivering bread, milk and medicine to remote parts of the state for at least two weeks.

Potential for more major flooding in the state remains strong, CNN International Meteorologist Jennifer Delgado said. Officials were still surveying damage and bracing for more as the threat of more rain falling into swollen rivers loomed.

Search and rescue divers Tuesday found the body of an 8-year-old boy who fell into the water near a river the day before, Victoria police said.

Authorities were still preparing a coroner`s report and had not officially linked his death to floods. But earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Julia Gillard mentioned the boy`s disappearance as she briefed reporters on the country`s flooding crisis.

"We know many communities are anxiously waiting as floodwaters rise, and many townships across Victoria have already been impacted by floodwaters," she said. "We also know that a small boy is missing, and so these are very difficult times in Victoria."

Gillard said she spoke with victims at a shelter in the state Monday -- many of whom had been evacuated from their homes and did not know what they would find when they return.

"Even in those circumstances, when I met with those Victorians, very many of them said to me that their thoughts are actually with the people of Queensland," she said.

Floods in that northeastern Australian state have killed at least 20 people, police said.

"People have lost their homes, they`ve lost their workplaces, they`ve lost their communities and, tragically, a number of Queenslanders have lost their lives," state Premier Anna Bligh told reporters Monday.

In a televised interview four weeks after the state`s flood crisis began, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said Monday that an investigation would analyze whether river dams "work as they`re supposed to and are operated as well as they technically can be," according to a transcript of the interview published on the government`s website.

Police said Monday that 15 evacuation centers housed 1,300 people overnight across Queensland.

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