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Flood hits Australia: Two dead, tens of thousands stranded

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Published: 12:05 GMT, Apr 1, 2017 |
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Local resident Lennon Bartlett paddles a rowboat through floodwaters in the northern New South Wales town of Lismore, Australia, after heavy rain associated with Cyclone Debbie swelled rivers to record heights across the region

Tens of thousands of Australians were stranded by floodwaters on Saturday (April 1) after the remnants of a powerful cyclone swept along the country’s east coast, cutting roads, destroying bridges and killing two people.

The disaster zone from ex-Cyclone Debbie stretched 1,000 km (600 miles) from Queensland state’s tropical resort islands and Gold Coast tourist strip to the farmlands of New South Wales state, with more than 100,000 homes without power.

Six large rivers had reached major flood levels and were still rising in several areas, said the Bureau of Meteorology.

Police said they recovered the bodies of two women from floodwaters late on Friday (March 31), the first reported deaths since Cyclone Debbie hit on Tuesday (March 28). One was found on a swamped property and the other retrieved by police divers from a car that had been swept off a flooded bridge.

Residents of Lismore in northern New South Wales (NSW) took to the flooded streets in kayaks after the Wilsons River surged over the town’s levee on Friday.

Authorities ordered further evacuations in parts of northern New South Wales on Saturday, while the city of Rockhampton in Queensland state is bracing for record-level flooding next week, Queensland Police said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urged people to be vigilant and not to take un risks.

Cyclone Debbie, a category four storm, one short of the most powerful level five, pounded Queensland state on Tuesday, smashing tourist resorts, bringing down power lines and shutting down coal mines.