MELBOURNE • Once-in-a-century flooding in parts of the eastern Australian state of Queensland looks set to worsen as the nation's weather bureau warned yesterday of more heavy rain in the area.
This comes as the country endured its hottest month on record in January, with sweltering conditions expected to persist through April, according to the weather bureau.
Some residents have already been evacuated after days of monsoon rains lashed the region around the coastal city of Townsville, in the north of the state, a spokesman for the Bureau of Meteorology said.
Mr Adam Blazak, a forecaster with the bureau, did not say how many people had been evacuated, but said some areas had reached "major" flood levels. "Normally a monsoonal burst might last a few days, but this one's been going on over a week now and is set to continue for a few more days as well," he said.
The local authorities issued a number of flood warnings yesterday morning and told residents to avoid using roads and consider moving to higher ground if conditions worsen.
North Queensland has significant zinc reserves as well as major deposits of silver, lead, copper and iron ore, with Townsville being a major processing centre for the region's base metals.
In stark contrast, wildfires in the southern island state of Tasmania have burned through more than 187,000ha of land, fire officials said.
Mr Chris Arnold, the chief officer of the Tasmania Fire Service, said yesterday that nearly 600 personnel were working to contain the fires, some of which have been burning for weeks, destroying homes.
Mr Arnold told reporters that while the last few days have seen favourable conditions for battling the blazes, communities in part of the state were still under threat as expected hot and dry weather today could see bushfires escalate again.