Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Sunday, 3 January 2010

Hundreds flee Australia flooding


One resident said it was the worst flooding he had seen in 60 years

More than 1,000 people have been evacuated from an outback town in the Australian state of New South Wales, after days of flooding.

Two areas of the state have been declared natural disaster areas after days of heavy rains swelled rivers and left farms cut off.

As water levels threatened to reach 5.5m (18ft), up to 1,200 people were moved from the town of Coonamble.

It comes after summer wildfires wreaked havoc on the other side of the country.

Sunday's evacuation order for Coonamble was issued because of concern about the state of levees holding back the nearby Castlereagh river.

"We are looking at a flood peak in the early hours of Monday morning at around 5.5m (18ft)," Phil Campbell, from the State Emergency Service, told state radio.


"That particular flood height does give us some concern regarding the levee that does protect 224 properties within Coonamble and, as such, an evacuation order has been issued."

Coonamble resident Ken Baker told AP television the river was the highest he had seen it in 60 years of living in the town.

Despite the damage, a number of farmers welcomed the rains, which follow a long drought.

Last week, wildfires threatened the city of Perth in Western Australia after razing dozens of homes and consuming thousands of acres of land.

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