Australian flood crisis could continue for 10 days

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 22, 2011 06:51

 
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MELBOURNE, Australia — An expansive inland sea will surge across southeast Australia  and threaten rural towns in its path for up to 10 more days, an official said on Saturday as the nation's flood crisis continued to create havoc and destruction.

The flooding began more than a month ago in Australia's northeast Queensland state, where 30 people died, more than 30,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and at least 3 billion Australian dollars ($3 billion) in crops and coal exports have been lost.

Record rains have shifted the emergency focus to southeast Victoria state, which is usually parched during the southern summer.

State Emergency Service spokesman Lachlan Quick said that a vast expanse of floodwater about 55 miles (90 kilometers) long by 25 miles (40 kilometers) wide and northwest of the Victorian capital Melbourne would continue coursing inland for the next 7 to 10 days until it spills into the Murray River.

Quick said 75 towns in the state had so far been affected by flooding and another five to 10 towns remained in the flood waters' northern path across flat wheat-growing country.

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