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Queensland Flooding Forces 20 Swift Water Rescues, Evacuations Underway

January 30, 2013; 4:48 AM

Two days of heavy rain due to the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Oswald impacting Australia have left many rivers in Queensland flooded.

Thousands of people have been evacuated due to the flood risk in the towns of Gladstone and Bundaberg, according to the BBC.

At least four people have died and three people have been reported missing. Tornadoes have damaged homes and injured at least 17 people in the Bundaberg region. Meteorologists in Australia have reported that there is a potential of flooding in Bundaberg that could cause rivers to rise to levels not reached in the last 70 years.

A 14-year-old boy had to be rescued as he clung to a tree in the swift-moving waters in Rockhampton.

Rescue teams were able to guide the boy safely to the bank; however, one rescuer was swept away. He was able to swim to the shore farther downstream, according to the AP.

During the past five days, at least 20 swift water rescues were needed due to flooded rivers.

A three-year-old boy was killed in Brisbane on Saturday when winds toppled a tree under which he and his pregnant mother had taken shelter. The woman is reported to have head injuries and broken bones.

People are being airlifted out of the flooded areas in Bundaberg by Australian Defence Force helicopters. All roads leading into the city have been flooded and offer no access.

"More than 9 inches (22 cm) of rain fell at the Rockhampton Airport over an 18-hour period ending on Jan. 23," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Michael Pigott.

The Fitzroy River, which runs through Rockhampton, is reported to be rising and is expected to reach about 7.5 meters (31 feet) during the weekend, according to reports from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The water levels of the Fitzroy are expected to rise sharply into next week as water arrives from upstream sources.

People are urged to use extreme caution and to avoid approaching swift-flowing rivers.

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