Military steps in as Australia tackles ‘once-in-a-century’ floods

The recent downpour has seen some of Australia’s tropical north get a year’s worth of rainfall in a week. (AAP Image via AP)
Updated 04 February 2019

Military steps in as Australia tackles ‘once-in-a-century’ floods

  • Australia’s tropical north typically experiences heavy rains during the monsoon season
  • But the recent downpour has seen some areas get a year’s worth of rainfall in a week

CAIRNS: Australia’s military has been deployed to tackle devastating “once-in-a-century” floods that have inundated homes, schools and airports in the country’s northeast, forcing hundreds to flee and bringing crocodiles onto the streets.
The Australian Defense Forces delivered 70,000 sandbags, deployed amphibious cargo vehicles and helped pluck flashlight-wielding residents from their rooftops Monday, as monsoon rains drenched the northern state of Queensland.
Australia’s tropical north typically experiences heavy rains during the monsoon season, but the recent downpour has seen some areas get a year’s worth of rainfall in a week.
The authorities were forced to open floodgates of a major dam late Sunday, unleashing what they called “dangerous and high velocity flows.”
In hard-hit Townsville, cars were mostly submerged, with picket fences barely poking through waist-deep flood waters.
“We’ve never seen so much water in our lives,” said local radio journalist Gabi Elgood. “You think there can’t possibly be any more to come but the rain just doesn’t stop.”
Desperate residents had to contend not only with flash flooding, landslides and power blackouts, but also several saltwater crocodile sightings in residential roads and cul-de-sacs.
Queensland Police issued a blunt warning for people to stay out of floodwaters.

“If the thought of coming face to face with a crocodile isn’t deterrent enough, before you start playing in flood waters you should always remember the distinct possibility you could be wading in your neighbor’s faeces,” the statement said.
Emergency services have struggled to respond to the scale of the disaster, with more than 1,100 people calling for help and 18 “swift water rescues” conducted overnight.
“Small boats worked through the night to evacuate members of the community,” said local commander Brig. Scott Winter.
Around 400 Townsville residents have sought shelter at nearby Lavarak military barracks.
State premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned the communities face more difficulties ahead. Schools and courts remain closed, more rain and high winds are on the way and emergency warnings still in effect for more than a dozen rivers.
Up to 20,000 homes are at risk of being inundated if the rains continue, officials said.
“It’s basically not just a one in 20-year event, it’s a one-in-100-year event,” said Palaszczuk.
“This is unprecedented, we’ve never seen anything like this before,” she said.


One dead after suspected suicide bombing in Indonesia

Updated 7 min 33 sec ago

One dead after suspected suicide bombing in Indonesia

  • The explosion happened around 8:45 a.m. local time (0145 GMT) at a police compound in Medan on Sumatra island
  • Unconfirmed local media reports said at least one police officer had been rushed to hospital after the bombing
MEDAN, Indonesia: A suspected suicide bombing outside a police station in Indonesia has left at least one attacker dead, authorities said Wednesday.

The explosion happened around 8:45 a.m. local time (0145 GMT) at a police compound in Medan on Sumatra island.

“We suspect this is a suicide bombing with one attacker killed,” national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told reporters in Jakarta.

An AFP reporter at the scene saw a body lying on the ground outside the station.

A police source who did not want to be named told AFP that the attack was perpetrated by at least two suicide bombers, but that was not officially confirmed.

Unconfirmed local media reports said at least one police officer had been rushed to hospital after the bombing but that their condition was not immediately known.

Police stations have been frequent targets for radicals in the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation, which has long struggled with Islamist militancy.

In August, Indonesian authorities shot and arrested a suspected militant who attacked police officers at a station in the country’s second-biggest city Surabaya.