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Evacuees return as Australian floods ease

Evacuated victims began returning to homes caked in sludge yesterday as Australia's flood crisis eased.

Officials said they were moving from the emergency phase into clean-up as flood water levels stabilised in the hard-hit coastal city of Rockhampton and dropped further in towns further inland.

Queensland state has been in the grip of Australia's worst flooding in some 50 years. At its worst, an area the size of France and Germany combined was covered with water, some 40 townships were inundated and nearly 4,000 people evacuated.

Police say 10 people have died in swollen rivers or floodwaters since late November.

The flooding shut some 40 coal mines and has destroyed crops. Road and rail links have been washed away and officials warn it could be months before they are restored.

Irish Independent