Floods force mass evacuations in Queensland, Australia

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LONDON. December 29. KAZINFORM North-eastern Australia's worst flooding in decades is continuing to cause chaos across the region; Kazinform refers to BBC News.

Around 1,000 people in Queensland have been evacuated, including the entire population of the town of Theodore.

The government has declared Theodore and two other towns in the region to be disaster zones, and forecasters say the floods have not yet peaked.

The cost of the damage is expected to top A$1bn (£650m), including massive losses of sunflower and cotton crops.

Army Black Hawk helicopters evacuated the 300 residents of Theodore, where every building in the town apart from the police station has been flooded, local media reported.

Theodore county mayor Maureen Clancy said only a few police officers had stayed behind.

"Certainly the water is still rising. The heights are at such a new record it's not known what this is going to do," she said.

The town's river has risen more than 50cm (20in) above its previous recorded high, Emergency Management Queensland spokesman Bruce O'Grady told Australia's ABC News.

Theodore farmer Keith Shoecraft told the BBC that vast areas of farmland were under water.

"This has been devastating for our town. Tonight that town will be completely isolated, empty," he said.

Mr Shoecraft said many farmers had stretched themselves financially but would be determined to survive.

"They're a pretty tough lot here, they won't leave. If... their bank managers will keep giving them money they will keep trying and trying and trying."

In the city of Bundaberg, residents in some areas were being advised to leave their homes as the Burnett River rose to danger levels.

The river was expected to reach 7.5m (24ft) - about 0.3m (1ft) more than the previous high water record of 1954; Kazinform cites BBC News.

See www.bbc.co.uk for full version

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