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18 July 2024

Australian floods claim second fatality


Raging Australian floodwaters claimed their second official fatality on Monday, after the body of a 38-year-old man whose boat was swamped in central Queensland was found.

It is the second death since large parts of the northeastern state were declared a disaster zone, but the ninth since November 30 related to the torrential rains that have lashed the state.

The latest casualty came after the boat the man was in was swamped by water on Saturday near the mouth of the Boyne River at Tannum Sands, an area badly hit by the floods.

The man and his companion attempted to swim to safety after the boat began filling with water and he was last seen stranded on a sand bar. The other man made it to safety and raised the alarm.

Floodwaters sweeping through northeastern Australia have prompted a string of rescues, including that of a group attempting to cross a swamped causeway in the northern Gulf of Carpentaria region late on Saturday.

Police managed to save three children and another adult from the car but a 41-year-old woman disappeared before they could reach her. Her body was recovered later.

Since November 30 there have been seven other deaths related to the floods, including that of a 17-year-old girl who drowned after her foot became stuck between rocks while trying to walk across a swollen and rising creek.

Three other people drowned when their vehicles were swept away while a teenage boy and a man drowned in separate incidents after jumping into flowing waterways.

Another man died after being swept off a footbridge in the state's far north on December 28.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard Monday warned people to beware of the risks.

"Floodwaters are dangerous," she told reporters in Sydney. "Fast moving water, rising water is dangerous."

"So I would ask everybody to abide by the instruction of emergency personnel and police as to how to move around and deal with this dangerous situation," she added.