More than 300 rescued from floodwaters in northeast Australia

AP, Australia :

More than 300 people were rescued overnight from floodwaters in northeast Australia, with dozens of residents clinging to roofs, officials said on Monday.

Cairns Airport was closed on Monday due to flooding and authorities were concerned that the city of 160,000 people will lose drinking water.

While rain was easing in Cairns, severe weather warnings were in place in nearby Port Douglas, Daintree, Cooktown, Wujal Wujal and Hope Vale, with more rain forecast.

Queensland state Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll described the flooding as “absolutely devastating.”


“Last night, we had an extraordinarily challenging, challenging evening, rescuing some 300 people,” Carroll told reporters.

There were no deaths or serious injuries, she said.

All 300 residents would be evacuated by helicopter from the Aboriginal community of Wujal Wujal, where nine adults and a 7-year-old child spent hours overnight on a hospital roof, officials said.

A Category 2 tropical cyclone passed close by Wujal Wujal on Wednesday. But while strong winds did little damage to the community, heavy rains have continued to lash the region.

Roads and railway lines were cut, communities were isolated and 14,000 homes and businesses were without power on Monday.