Australian Defense Force sends more helicopters for flood operation

14:57, January 11, 2011      

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A flash flood hits Toowoomba, Queensland on January 10, 2011. (Xinhua/AFP photo)

The Australian Defense Force on Tuesday said it will deploy additional helicopters for flood assistance operations in Queensland.

Already three Army Black Hawk helicopters, two Navy Sea King helicopters, an Army CH47 Chinook helicopter, two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) B350 King Air planes and a RAAF C-130 Hercules are involved in the operations.

Following discussions between Defense Minister Stephen Smith and Defense force chief Angus Houston on Tuesday, they decided to assign two additional Black Hawk helicopters to the operation and will be based at Amberley of Queensland.

Four Kiowa light helicopters, which Smith said were " particularly well-suited for the operation and search and rescue", will be also deployed to Amberley RAAF base.

According to Australia Associated Press, the additional helicopters are expected to be available on Wednesday morning.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard earlier pledged to provide Queensland with whatever defense force support it needs to cope with floods that have devastated the south-east of the state.

Meanwhile, Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan is also cutting short his engagements in the United States to return to Australia as the Queensland flood crisis worsens.

Swan was to address an event at Stanford University hosted by the Australian American Leadership Dialogue on the importance of the bilateral relationship and the challenges facing the global economy.

However, given the serious escalation of the flood crisis, Australia Associated Press reported that Swan would return to Australia on the next available flight.

So far, eight people are confirmed dead and more than 70 people still missing after Monday night's unprecedented flash flooding in the city of Toowoomba and in communities in the Lockyer Valley of southern Queensland.

Source: Xinhua
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