Australians evacuate flood-hit Queensland towns

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Media captionAerial footage shows the extent of the flooding in Queensland

Flooding in north-eastern Australia has forced residents to evacuate towns and closed down more than 300 roads.

In one town, Theodore, 300 residents are being flown out by a fleet of helicopters after floodwaters swamped buildings.

The floods have caused hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage to sunflower and cotton crops.

The state government of Queensland has declared several areas disaster zones.

The state capital, Brisbane, has recorded its wettest December in more than 150 years. Cyclone Tasha, which hit Queensland on Saturday, also brought torrential rain to the state.

'Still coming'

The river in Theodore had passed its previous recorded high by more than 50cm (20in), Emergency Management Queensland spokesman Bruce O'Grady told Australian TV ABC.

"We're in unchartered territory in that area. The bureau is indicating it could go higher," he said.

Inland towns such as Chinchilla and Dalby are all under water; the nearby town of Warra, and the towns of Alpha and Jericho, west of Emerald, have also been declared disaster zones.

Officials said although the rain was easing in some areas, more flooding was expected as the water drained through towns to the sea.

"There's an enormous amount of water still coming and I think that's the problem, the unknown we've got to face," Western Downs Mayor Ray Brown told ABC.

Brent Finlay, president of the farmers' lobby group AgForce, said the floods could cause up to $403m (£261m) in damage to crops.

"It's just devastating. This was going to be the crop that got a lot of farmers back on their feet after the drought," Mr Finlay said.

Further south, in New South Wales, about 175 people who had spent the night in evacuation centres have returned home.

But 800 people in the towns of Urbenville and Bonalbo are expected to be cut off for another 24 hours.

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