Catastrophic Queensland flooding

Flooding Rockhampton, Queensland 05 Jan 11 (AP)

The Australian state of Queensland is facing its worst flooding in 50 years and officials in the city of Rockhampton fear it could take several weeks for the floodwaters to recede.

Queensland officials say the damage from the floods has been unprecedented and cleanup costs could exceed $5 billion — not counting huge losses in crops and lost revenue in the state’s coal industry.

More than 200,000 residents, in an area as large as British Columbia, have been affected by the floods triggered by a week of torrential rains that began just before Christmas.

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