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‘Water as far as eye can see’ as floods hit Australia

Floodwater covers the streets in Queensland, Australia

Floods swamped parts of the Australian state of Queensland on Friday, covering pastureland and cutting off towns as swollen rivers inundated about 200 homes.

“There’s water as far as the eye can see,” said James Wyld by phone from the bar of the Julia Creek Hotel in western Queensland’s grazing country.

A disaster was declared further east in the coastal canefarming towns of Ingham and Halifax, where television pictures showed the swollen Herbert River rushing over the main highway.

No injuries were reported though 225 homes around Ingham were flooded, authorities said, and 72 children on a school camp north of Ingham were isolated by the rising water, Queensland state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters in Brisbane.

“They are safe, they are in good spirits,” she said.

The Herbert River level, its highest since 2009, was expected to begin receding overnight, but major flood warnings remained in place for at least half a dozen rivers statewide, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Water could take weeks to recede from the flatter country covered further west, where it has been welcomed in a region gripped by severe drought.

“It’s been good rain..but not everywhere’s got those good falls,” Bureau of Meteorology senior hydrologist Andy Barnes told Reuters.

“Whether that’s enough to really break what’s been years and years and years of drought is probably not the case I suspect.”

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