This handout photo taken on March 10, 2023 and received on March 11, 2023 from the Queensland Police Service shows an aerial view of the flooded northern Queensland town of Burketown. (HANDOUT / QUEENSLAND POLICE SERVICE / AFP)
SYDNEY – A record-breaking flood in Australia's Queensland state was forecast to peak on Sunday, after almost 100 residents of an outback town were moved to higher ground.
The flood, triggered by heavy rain over the past week, is worst in the remote Gulf Country town of Burketown, about 2,100 km (1,300 miles) northwest of state capital Brisbane.
Australia's Bureau of Meteorology predicted water levels in the area would peak on Sunday. It said the flood had already topped a March 2011 record of 6.78 meters
Dan McKinlay, chief executive of the local council responsible for Burketown, said on Sunday that 97 residents had been airlifted out in the past 48 hours.
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Water levels in the area were "at heights not previously known" and the town looked like it was "sitting in the middle of an ocean", he told ABC radio.
Australia's Bureau of Meteorology predicted water levels in the area would peak on Sunday. It said the flood had already topped a March 2011 record of 6.78 meters (22.2 feet).
The crisis comes after frequent flooding in Australia's east over the last two years due to a multi-year La Nina weather event, including once-in-a-century floods that hit remote areas in the neighboring Northern Territory, in January.
On Saturday, police released aerial images of the Burketown flooding, showing properties and swaths of land submerged.
The Bureau of Meteorology expected the weather event to continue this week, but said it was now in a "receding" phase.
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"Further showers and isolated thunderstorms are forecast for the remainder of Sunday, however widespread rainfall has generally eased in the area," the forecaster said, adding that the peak of the flood waters could extend into Monday.