Australians must brace for more deaths in Queensland's floods: PM

15:03, January 11, 2011      

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said on Tuesday that the nation should prepare itself for more deaths following massive flash flooding in Queensland.

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

The prime minister offered her sympathies to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones.

"The nation does need to brace itself for the fact that the death toll as a result of yesterday's flash flooding and walls of water is likely to rise," Gillard told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

Gillard described the circumstances in Queensland as "very dire indeed".

"There are some communities that have been hit by floodwaters for a second time - hit once, evacuated, gone back, and now being hit again," she said.

Gillard said she has made it very clear to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh that any resource she needs from the Australian Defense Force will be made available to the people of Queensland to assist them during this very difficult period.

According to Australia Associated Press, Blackhawks and Sea Kings helicopters are working with the Queensland emergency personnel on search and rescue efforts, and Gillard praised the courage and commitment of emergency services personnel who had faced "these incredibly harrowing circumstances over the last 24 hours".

She said there were still more dark days ahead, but the spirit of Queensland is to face these circumstances with courage and determination.

Earlier, Gillard had been briefed by Australia's national security adviser as well as the head of Emergency Management Australia. She has also spoken to the commanding officer of Operation Queensland Flood Assist.

Gillard said she will look to travel to Queensland to visit the victims on Tuesday night or Wednesday.

Source: Xinhua
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