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Last Updated: Monday January 07 2008 07:41 GMT

Australia hit by terrible floods

Floods in Australia

Thousands of people have been stranded by some of the worst flooding to hit eastern Australia in 20 years.

Heavy storms have been battering the coast for days, causing rivers to burst their banks and cutting off several towns in the state of New South Wales.

The rising flood waters have forced hundreds of people to leave their homes and parts of the state have been declared natural disaster zones.

Officials have warned that some areas could be isolated for up to a week.

Helicopters are being used to get food and other essential supplies to those who are trapped.

A map of Australia showing New South Wales and Queensland
The floods are said to be the worst to hit the east coast in 20 years
The wild weather has caused similar problems further north along the coast, in Queensland.

Heavy rain triggered flash floods in parts of the state and some beaches have been closed to keep people safe.

The bad weather follows months of drought in Australia.

But experts say a lot more rain is needed to make up for the massive shortfall of rain during the long dry spell.



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