Thousands evacuated as floods swamp Brisbane

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Thousands evacuated as floods swamp Brisbane

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Floodwater swept down the Brisbane River on Wednesday and slowly submerged Australia’s third largest city, wreaking havoc for thousands of homes and businesses.

Brisbane, Queensland is braced for its worst flooding in over a century. Water levels are expected to exceed those of the city’s last major flood – in 1974 – which killed 14 people.

Officials say at least 16 people are dead and as many as 90 are missing.

It is believed up to 20,000 homes could be affected when the flood surge peaks at the Brisbane river on Thursday morning.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Queensland had the support of the whole country.

“My message here to the people of Queensland would be we will be there with you for the many, many months it’s going to take to recover from this,” she said.

Gillard said she would make all necessary military resources available to help with the rescue operation.

The Sunshine State’s worst-ever natural disaster began last month when heavy rains hit the north.

Some 3,500 residents are now taking shelter in makeshift evacuation centres across the country.