11 Jan 2011

Queensland's "darkest hour" - Premier

9:06 am on 11 January 2011

A desperate situation is unfolding in south-east Queensland, where flash flooding has claimed the lives of at least seven people.

Heavy rain on Monday created a torrent of water that swept people off their feet, cars down city streets and houses off their foundations in the city of Toowoomba.

The torrent is described as an inland tsumani.

Four deaths have been confirmed, but the ABC understands three others have also died.

About 30 more people are missing.

The ABC reports raging waters are headed towards Lowood, east of Toowoomba and about 65km from Brisbane. They could affect expected flood levels in Brisbane and at Ipswich.

A severe weather warning has been issued for several parts of the state, and people are being evacuated from homes at Condamine, Chinchilla and Dalby, west of Toowoomba.

State Premier Anna Bligh said on Monday the flash floods are without doubt Queensland's "darkest hour" since the state's flood crisis began.

The event that started in Toowoomba can only be described as a complete freak of nature, an extraordinary deluge that almost came out of nowhere," she said.

"What we have here in Queensland tonight is a very grim and desperate situation. There are many Queenslanders tonight in critical and dire circumstances.

"Many people are facing a very terrifying night. I think we can all say that our thoughts are with them over the coming hours and we pray and hope that they will be safe when first light comes tomorrow morning."

City in shock - Mayor

Toowoomba Mayor Peter Taylor says the damage is enormous and the city is in shock.

The ABC reports a wall of water is moving down the Lockyer Creek which will flow into the Bremer and Brisbane Rivers causing more flooding on Tuesday.