Flood-stricken Queensland awaits peak
As the worst flooding for 50 years in Queensland, Australia, enters its second month, the city of Rockhampton is now almost entirely cut off.
There is now only one route by land open into Rockhampton and more than 20 towns Queensland have been cut off or flooded. More than 200,000 people have been affected.
With floods predicted to reach their peak in the next 24 hours, the authorities have evacuated residents and issued warnings of possible snake and crocodile attacks in the brown floodwaters.
Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts urged Queenslanders to steer clear of flooded roads, creeks and waterways, with fears that a man swept off a causeway at Aramac could take the death toll ten.
He said: "With nine people confirmed drowned in floodwaters already and grave fears held for a tenth, I'm pleading with residents in flood affected areas to be extremely careful.
"While the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service has deployed Swift Water Rescue teams to key areas all over the state, I ask residents to not risk their own lives, those of their family and potentially the lives of their rescuers by attempting to cross floodwaters."
The government has announced grants for small businesses of Australian $25,000 for clean up and recovery assistance. Grants are also being made available to the hardest hit residents to cover food, clothing and accommodation.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has called an emergency Cabinet meeting in response to the flood crisis.
Ministers have been re-called from leave and an emergency Cabinet meeting will be held on Wednesday.
Premier Bligh said: "As Queensland faces its toughest hour the Cabinet will meet to immediately begin the significant rebuilding process.
"An enormous amount of the State has been inundated and devastated.
"The affected area is greater than the size of NSW, with the worst still to come in communities like Rockhampton."
Industry is being severely affected by the floods. Three-quarters of Queensland's coal fields are unable to operate and unable to supply markets. Exports are affected as transport is impossible due to railway lines being flooded. Alison Brown