Thousands of Australians leave Queensland homes to escape flood

19:00, January 12, 2011      

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This is an aerial view photo of Brisbane taken on Jan. 11, 2011. Forecasts show about 6,500 properties will be flooded in Australian city of Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Fu Chengwei)

The death toll from the Australian Queensland floods disaster has risen to 12 and more than 3500 people have been forced to take shelter in 57 evacuation centers across the state as floodwaters continue to rise, said Queensland Premier Anna Bligh on Wednesday.

Announcing the increase from the previous figure of 10 confirmed deaths, Bligh said thousands more had fled their homes and sheltered with family and friends on higher ground.

Of those in evacuation centers some 1500 are in Ipswich and 400 are in Brisbane.

"We expect that number to grow as their rivers start to swell and peak this afternoon and overnight," Bligh told reporters in Brisbane on Wednesday afternoon.

Bligh said bus services into the Brisbane Central Business District (CBD) had been canceled but trains were operating on public holiday timetables.

The Inner City Bypass has been closed and tolls lifted on the Logan and Gateway motorways.

Bligh said public hospitals had generator back-up power and were located in areas safe from flooding.

"Anybody who has any critical health issue can rest assured their hospitals are operating," she said.

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