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Crocodiles a risk as Australian floodwaters recede

Residents of Rockhampton wait for the waters to drain, authorities urge caution

Gulf News

Sydney: Residents of the flood-hit Australian town of Rockhampton were on Sunday warned against the risk of saltwater crocodiles, as the flooded Fitzroy River slowly receded.

Torrential rains that trailed tropical cyclone Oswald flooded parts of the northeast state of Queensland, and as residents of Rockhampton waited for the waters to drain, authorities urged caution.

“The Fitzroy River is a natural habitat for saltwater crocodiles,” deputy mayor Tony Williams told reporters.

“It’s always a danger there. It’s something that we need to be mindful of, and [we are] informing the residents not to go into those waters because of those risks that are there with those crocodiles.”

Floodwaters have swamped the gardens of about 1,100 houses in the central Queensland town, but officials are expecting much less damage than from epic floods in 2011 when hundreds of homes and businesses were inundated.

But further south in Bundaberg, residents of the worst-hit areas were returning to their homes to collect personal belongings and begin the clean-up in the town badly battered by the floods and storms.

Bundaberg was devastated as the Burnett River peaked at a record 9.6 metres last week and the floodwaters overwhelmed about 2,000 homes and scores of businesses.

In North Bundaberg, homes are still without power, water or sewerage and there are sink-holes in some parts meaning authorities have asked people not to stay in their homes overnight for safety reasons.

“I think a lot of people coming out now realise what we were trying to explain to them before they got over there of how bad it is,” Bundaberg deputy mayor David Batt told the national broadcaster ABC.

One resident, Ann Rothwell, said the area’s high-set homes had been swept off their supports by the raging floodwaters which claimed six lives in Queensland state.

“I never thought I’d see houses off of stumps. I never thought that,” she told the state broadcaster.

Rains triggered by ex-cyclone Oswald brought wild storms to Queensland and neighbouring New South Wales, with floodwaters prompting scores of helicopter rescues and isolating tens of thousands of people at their peak.