Disasters & Accidents

Australia works to evacuate 300 people isolated by floods

Sydney, Australia, Dec 19 (EFE).- The Australian authorities were trying on Tuesday to evacuate some 300 inhabitants of a town in northeastern Australia’s Queensland state who have been cut-off for days due to the floods caused by Cyclone Jasper, which made landfall almost a week ago.

Queensland’s emergency services managed on Tuesday to access Wujal Wujal, located about 166 kilometers (103 miles) from the tourist city of Cairns, after the operation was stopped the previous day due to torrential rainfall in this remote Aboriginal community, where many houses have been destroyed and warnings issued after crocodiles sightings.

Queensland Police State Disaster Coordinator Deputy Commissioner Shane Chelepy told Australian public broadcaster ABC that the priority was for the elderly and most vulnerable residents of Wujal Wujal to be evacuated as soon as possible to Cooktown, about 72 kilometers north of this community.

“We know that a number of those communities have been without power and water, and can I please assure the community that we are aware of that and that those resupply efforts will commence today,” Chelepy said.

Australian authorities are also trying to access by air other remote communities such as Degarra and Bloomfeild, which were also affected by heavy rains that have caused flooding and landslides.

Flights in Cairns – the most populated city in Far North Queensland and one of the main access points for the Great Barrier Reef – resumed on Tuesday after the removal of debris from the airport’s runway.

Military personnel are also continuing to assist in evacuations with boats, while the company that provides electricity to the area is working against the clock to restore power to 2,000 people.

On Tuesday, the meteorological service announced that the heavy rains – which have destroyed large sections of roads and cut-off several towns – will ease in the northernmost part of Queensland, where the Australian government deployed some 150 soldiers a day earlier to assist with emergency and rescue tasks.

The catastrophe was unleashed after the passage of Jasper, which made landfall on Wednesday as a category 2 cyclone near Wujal Wujal and lost strength as soon as it touched land to become a tropical storm that has wreaked havoc in the northeast.

Although powerful cyclones are not common in Australia, they occasionally hit the northern part of the Oceania country, such as the category 5 Cyclone Yasi, which devastated Queensland in February 2011, leaving one person dead and causing considerable damage. EFE


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