SYDNEY • The Australian authorities have found a fifth body in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie and accompanying floods that swamped the country's east coast, said The Sydney Morning Herald.
Receding waters have also started revealing the human and economic cost of the storm.
The disaster zone stretched 1,000km from Queensland state's tropical resort islands and Gold Coast tourist strip to the farmlands of New South Wales state.
The body of 77-year-old Nelson Raebel was found in flood waters in Queensland last Saturday afternoon, Queensland Police said. The bodies of two men and two women were found earlier.
Reuters said the authorities were still searching for another three people who remain missing in flood-hit areas of Queensland.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the devastation caused by the storm was huge. "It is going to take months to repair," she told reporters yesterday.
The Insurance Council of Australia declared the event a catastrophe, which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, Reuters reported. Photos taken by emergency services in the town of Lismore, in New South Wales, show businesses in the town centre inundated with brown water. Mayor Isaac Smith, who was assessing the damage yesterday, told Reuters it resembled a "war zone".
Water in several large rivers in New South Wales that had reached major flood levels was receding, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said.
But evacuation orders were still in place for a number of townships in the state's north, while the city of Rockhampton in Queensland braced itself for record-level flooding this week, as water moves downstream into the Fitzroy River catchment.
Cyclone Debbie, a Category 4 storm, one short of the most powerful Level 5, pounded Queensland state last Tuesday, smashing tourist resorts, bringing down power lines and shutting down coal mines.
Reuters reported that Australia's Defence Force was deployed to help deliver medical personnel and supplies to communities in the north of the state.
Debbie will hit Australia's A$1.7 trillion (S$1.8 trillion) economy, with economists estimating it will slow growth to under 2 per cent in the first quarter.