4 Feb 2012

More flood-hit Queenslanders told to evacuate

8:42 pm on 4 February 2012

Floodwaters throughout southern Queensland in Australia are at record levels and more people are being told to leave their homes.

Authorities are on high alert in the south-western part of the state where a temporary levee is at risk of collapsing as floodwaters continue to rise on Saturday.

Authorities have built a second levee at Charleville that they hope will save the town if the first wall collapses under the pressure of the swollen Warrego River.

The town is on high alert as water laps at the top of the town's first levee and engineers try to stop leaks to ensure it does not fail.

The river is at 7.7 metres and the mayor says it appears to be steady.

Emergency services spent Friday night door-knocking, warning residents who were inundated during the 1997 floods or living near the temporary levee to evacuate.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has asked the Defence Force for assistance and says helicopters are ready to deploy. More than 100 people spent Friday night in evacuation centres.

A natural disaster has been declared in the south, with three-quarters of the town of Mitchell under water.

Meanwhile, police are still looking for a woman whose car was swept away in floodwaters near the town on Friday.

Thousands cut off in NSW

In New South Wales, 17,000 people are isolated by floodwaters in the northern part of the state on Saturday.

The north-western town of Gunnedah is the latest to be hit by rain and major flooding, with the Namoi River having risen to nearly 8 metres, the ABC reports.

The State Emergency Service (SES) expects the river to peak in the afternoon.

Rivers have already peaked around Moree and Wee Waa, but the SES says it will have to wait to see how much rain falls overnight before they can launch full-scale relief efforts.

The SES says the clean-up from flooding over the past few days could take months to complete.