Queensland confronts rising flood death toll

The death toll from Queensland's devastating flood crisis has risen to six, after the bodies of two missing men were discovered on Wednesday..

Police found the first body inside a car in the flooded Sandy Creek at Glen Cairn, west of Brisbane early on Wednesday morning, while the second was found at Gatton that afternoon.

The discoveries have ended a search for two farm workers who had been missing since Sunday. However, the bodies are yet to be formally identified.

The search was focused on Sandy Creek after another car, a white 1997 Mitsubishi Magna, was found in it on Tuesday afternoon.

It is believed the Magna was being driven by a 25-year-old man on his way to work in Mulgowie early on Sunday morning.

Police were also searching for a 34-year-old man who was travelling from Gatton to Mulgowie for work at the same time but failed to arrive and has not made contact with colleagues since.

Both cars were found in the creek and have been removed.

The discovery of the second body brings the state’s death toll from the floods to six, with one person still missing.

The youngest victim was just three years old and has been named as Angus Burke, the son of two doctors in Brisbane.

He and his pregnant mother, Dr Zara Weedon, were crushed by a tree while walking along Kedron Brook in Gordon Park on Wednesday and Angus died in hospital later that night.

Dr Weedon remains in a critical but stable condition in the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Ex-tropical cyclone Oswald claimed its first victims on Sunday in Burnett Heads, near Bundaberg and near Gympie.

The 81-year-old man died when he fell off his yacht while trying to secure it against the ferocious winds.

A 27-year-old man, believed to be wheelchair bound, drowned in a creek near Gympie when the car he was travelling in with his mother and stepfather was washed off the road.

His step-father was rescued shortly after but his mother clung to a tree for hours before she could be saved.

The next day, a motorcyclist was killed when he was swept off a flooded bridge into Oxley Creek in Greenbank.

Water police in Yeppoon are still searching for a fisherman who has been missing since Thursday when his boat was destroyed by rough waters off the central coast.

The other man he was fishing with, Steve Crear, managed to crawl up a bank ‘‘like a crocodile’’ and was rescued on Saturday.

With flood waters due to recede from Wednesday, teams trained to find earthquake victims were waiting to sweep flood-bound homes in Bundaberg amid fears elderly or disabled people could be trapped.

The four urban search-and-rescue teams will be deployed to the flood-hit sugar city, where 2000 homes and 200 businesses have been inundated, leaving 7500 residents displaced.

Police reinforcements have also been sent to the tornado- and flood-ravaged region after four properties were hit by suspected looters.

The swollen Burnett River peaked at a record 9.53 metres at 7pm on Tuesday.

In Brisbane and Ipswich, where rivers peaked below forecast levels beneath blue skies, the sense of relief among flood-weary residents and business owners was palpable.

No homes were inundated in Brisbane, although water flowed into streets and yards in Milton and West End.

The inundation of an estimated 59 properties in West Ipswich was regarded as a miracle by local councillor Paul Tully.

He visited Enid Street where residents had moved what they could to higher ground.

“We're talking about a street that had water over the roofs two years ago, and there isn't even any water on the street," he said.

The Logan River was due to peak at nine metres at the Larry Story Bridge in Waterford early Wednesday morning.

Only one home had been undated by 11pm. Cherly Edler and her partner James Gaffney managed to move many of their belongings from the lower level of their house, before the waters moved in.

They sat on their verandah drinking rum and cola, watching the river rise on Tuesday night.

Hours earlier, southeast Queensland residents were asked to conserve water after silt forced the closure of Brisbane's main treatment plant at Mount Crosby.

The remarkable situation developed days after the city was soaked by torrential rain.

The treatment plant resumed limited operations by 9pm, but authorities continued to warn seven suburbs – Tarragindi, Camp Hill, Carina North, Mount Gravatt, Tingalpa, Rocklea and Oxley – could run dry.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has paid tribute to the resilience of residents, who in some cases have weathered four floods in three years.

"It's incredible to see the spirit of Queenslanders out on the streets of their cities and towns as they grapple with what is a big crisis," he said.

Smaller towns, like Eidsvold, Gayndah, Mundubbera and Monto, have been doing it tough as they battle floods and supply problems.

With the floodwaters progressing through central Queensland's river system, the town of Condamine, west of Chinchilla, is facing a 12-metre river peak on Thursday or Friday.

As the flood waters recede from the coastal towns, attention will turn to the huge damage bill and recovery task.

Already, 9800 insurance claims have been lodged in Queensland worth a combined $116 million, according to the Insurance Council of Australia.

The damage to infrastructure is still being assessed, but it has been estimated the bill will run into the hundreds of millions, without counting crop and livestock losses.

Mr Newman has urged people to donate to the government's Queensland Flood Appeal being coordinated with Red Cross.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Governor-General Quentin Bryce are expected to visit flood-affected regions in Queensland in coming days.

The story Queensland confronts rising flood death toll first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop