Page last updated at 05:59 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Crocodile risk in Australia flood

People use boats to get around in the flooded town of Ingham

Residents in northern Australia have been warned to beware large crocodiles and snakes as floods sweep the area.

Three sightings of a large crocodile have been reported near Normanton, Queensland.

Officials suggested the floods have swept the animals out of rivers and into urban areas.

About two-thirds of the state has been declared a disaster zone, 17 rivers are in flood and scores of homes inundated and there is havoc on many roads.

Severe weather warnings remain in place for north Queensland.

Deputy Premier Paul Lucas said "it's like pouring water over a wet towel" adding the state cannot take much more heavy weather.

Crocs alert

Local media said huge crocodiles in the centre of some towns around the Gulf of Carpentaria have hampered rescue efforts and large numbers have reportedly been seen swimming towards the 60 km-wide (37-mile) mouth of the flooded Norman River.

Manager of the Albion Hotel in Normanton, Donna Smith, said a four-metre (13ft) crocodile had been seen stalking residents and dogs in the flooded main street.

She also warned the town was expected to run out of beer in two days.

"We can put up with a lot of drama, no fruit and veggies, but nobody wants a pub with no beer," Ms Smith told Brisbane's Courier-Mail newspaper.

A crocodile measuring 1.6 metres (5.2ft) long was run over by a car on a street in the city of Townsville on Tuesday, wildlife rangers said.

The croc lost a few teeth and suffered bruising but was receiving medical attention, they said.

Supply barges

Some towns are virtually underwater and others will be isolated for weeks by floodwaters, officials said.

Tow truck staff try to reach submerged vehicle Queensland Nov 08
Queensland officials say the state cannot take much more water
"Unrelenting rain and flooding has battered North Queensland over recent weeks and the Queensland government is working hard to ensure residents are receiving the financial assistance and support they need," Communities Minister Lindy Nelson-Carr said in a statement on Wednesday.

The flooding started last December, at one point closing major inland mines, and has continued, fed by a series of rain depressions and a cyclone.

Some of the worst flooding was in the coastal sugar town of Ingham with residents forced to use boats to move around; 3,000 homes were damaged by flooding.

Normanton in northwest Queensland has been isolated for four weeks.

Barges loaded with essential supplies have been supplying the area from Cairns on the northeast coast.

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