Australia floods: Victoria town residents told to flee

People in the south-eastern Australian town of Kerang have been told to leave their homes, as rising river levels threatened another community in the worst flood crisis in decades.More than 1,000 Kerang residents have moved to a nearby evacuation centre, as the Loddon River continues to swell.The alert comes a day after a boy drowned in another area of Victoria.Further north in Queensland, floods have killed more than 30 people since the tropical storms began in November.The evacuation warning was issued by the State Emergency Service (SES) after water from the Loddon River began to seep through a levee, raising fears that Kerang could be inundated.Officials warned that the town could be isolated for five days, and advised residents to pack ample supplies.”You should ensure you have left your property immediately,” the SES said in text message alerts sent about 0520 local time on Wednesday (1920 GMT on Tuesday) to the town’s 2,500 residents.

Spreading waters were surging across the north and east of state, and more than 3,500 people have evacuated their homes.At least 58 towns across Victoria have now been hit by floods and 22 relief centres are in operation. Power cuts are in force as electricity stations have been submerged.Floodwaters split the Victorian town of Horsham in two on Tuesday, as the body of a young boy was found in another flood-hit town, Shepparton.The flooding in Victoria follows weeks of massive flooding in Queensland, which has swamped two-thirds of the state, crippling its lucrative mining industry.A 13-year-old boy was buried with his mother on Wednesday. He became a national hero for insisting that rescuers save his younger brother first, when their family car was caught in the powerful floodwaters.A heavy storm pounded Queensland’s state capital Brisbane and the nearby town of Ipswich, impeded recovery efforts there.More than 7,000 lightning strikes were recorded, while falling trees damaged homes and created new fears in an area already badly hit by floods.Residents there have been warned that more heavy rain is to come.Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said she will form a panel of corporate leaders to help rebuild devastated infrastructure.The floods are said to be Australia’s most expensive natural disaster – BBC