Rural Australian towns are braced for another week of flooding as a vast lake continues to spread across the country’s south east and a potential tropical storm threatens the north east.
The flooding began more than a month ago in Australia’s north-east Queensland state, where 30 people have died, more than 30,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed and at least 3 billion Australian dollars in crops and coal exports have been lost.
Record rains have shifted the flood emergency focus to south-east Victoria state, which is usually parched during the southern summer.
Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan said in a statement that the floods will rank as one of the most costly natural disasters in Australian history and its impact on the economy will be felt for years.
The government will announce its first cost estimates on Friday, he said.
The State Emergency Service has warned that a lake about 55 miles long north west of the Victorian capital of Melbourne will continue coursing inland for the next week until it spills into the Murray River.
Emergency services are focusing their efforts 210 miles north west of Melbourne at Swan Hill, a town of 10,000 where the Murray meets the swollen Lodden River and flood waters are expected to peak mid week, SES spokesman Sam Bishop.
SES said 75 towns in the state have been affected by flooding and another five to 10 towns are still in the floodwaters’ northern path across flat wheat-growing country.