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600 residents ordered to evacuate as flood threat spreads in Australia

(Xinhua)

10:25, March 07, 2012

SYDNEY, March 7 (Xinhua) -- Rising floodwaters are threatening the southern New South Wales (NSW) city of Griffith and surrounding areas in Australia, with about 600 people ordered to evacuate from the region, local media reported on Wednesday.

The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) issued a flood evacuation order for parts of Griffith on early Wednesday morning, advising residents of the low-lying parts of Griffith and its surroundings to evacuate immediately.

"Do not delay your evacuation," the SES said in the order.

"Roads may be congested or closed which could result in you becoming stranded and requiring rescuing."

Keith Favell from the SES has told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio it is hard to predict how the flooding in Griffith will unfold.

"It's a bit of an unprecedented flood. We don't often see water like this coming into Griffith because it's not under a defined river system," he said.

"Overland flooding is a little bit more difficult to predict exactly when it's going to arrive, because we don't have gauge locations and a history of flow times."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Julia Gillard is to tour the flood- hit area of Wagga Wagga in southern NSW on Wednesday.

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, as 9,000 people were evacuated from Wagga Wagga.

The city was spared additional devastation on Tuesday night when its levee held back the Murrumbidgee River's peak at 10.56 meters.

Residents from Wagga Wagga were given the all clear to return to their homes and businesses on Wednesday morning.

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