Thursday, February 05, 2009

Australian floods wash crocodiles into streets

Floods ravaging northern Australia have washed crocodiles onto the streets, where one was hit by a car, authorities said in a warning to residents Wednesday.More than 60 percent of the vast northeastern state of Queensland has been declared a disaster area, and flooding after two recent cyclones has affected almost 3,000 homes, they said.The army has been called in to help with rescue and recovery efforts, while three reports of large crocodiles washed up from flooded rivers have come in from homes in the Gulf of Carpentaria region."I'm not sure if it's the same crocodile moving around -- on the three sides of Normanton there's been a large croc seen right up close to the water's edge," said mayor Joyce Zahner."Hopefully he'll stay in the water and the kids will stay on the land," Zahner told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.A crocodile measuring 1.6 metres (5.3 feet) long was run over by a car on a street in the nearby city of Townsville on Tuesday, wildlife rangers said.The croc lost a few teeth and suffered bruising but was receiving medical attention, they said.In the worst flood-affected town of Ingham, 2,900 homes were hit, including 50 which were totally swamped, emergency authorities said.Dozens of people had been evacuated to emergency accommodation in a nearby school as more than 360 millimetres (14 inches) of rain fell in the 24 hours from Tuesday morning.The damage bill is estimated at 110 million dollars (76 million US) and growing, said Neil Roberts, Queensland state's emergency services minister.The region is bracing for further floods, with a tropical low pressure system threatening to develop into a cyclone about 150 kilometres (93 miles) off Queensland's north coast, forecasters said."The conditions -- as far as meteorological conditions are concerned -- are quite favourable for the system to once again develop into a tropical cyclone," a weather bureau spokesman said.

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