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Victoria prepares for flood waters to hit

Towns in the southern Australian state of Victoria were bracing for their biggest floods in 200 years yesterday as the death toll from the natural disaster in Queensland rose.

Residents of the town of Horsham, which lies 190 miles northwest of Melbourne and is home to 14,000 people, were rushing to protect their homes with sandbags as the swollen Wimmera River threatened 500 properties.

The river is expected to peak at more than 13ft and could inundate another 12 small towns.

"It's predicted to be a one-in-200-year event," a Victoria emergency services spokesman said yesterday. "We are expecting Horsham will be cut in half by the river and that the highway be cut as well."

Across Victoria, more than 1,600 properties have been affected by rising water and 3,500 people have been evacuated from their homes.

A seven-year-old child was missing last night after falling into a flooded river.

Flooding has also spread into New South Wales, where nearly 7,000 people are reliant on airdrops of supplies.

The renewed crisis comes as Wayne Swan, the Australian treasurer, said the widespread flooding, which has gripped the country for almost one month, was the nation's most expensive natural disaster in history. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent