Floods in Australia kill at least four people

Eastern state of Queensland has been lashed by torrential rains

Torrential rain lashed eastern Australia on Saturday, raising deadly floodwaters to levels not seen in decades and swamping homes and sweeping away cars, including one carrying a team of rescuers.

Authorities in the state of Queensland said two people were killed overnight, bringing the flooding death toll to four since early this week. Two other people were missing.

Images broadcast on Australian media showed homes and roads swamped, areas of land transformed into lakes and a large chunk of a concrete pier floating down a fast-flowing river.

The waters snatched a car carrying a team of four emergency services workers, who were heading to rescue a family from their flooded home, state police disaster co-ordinator Steve Gollschewski said.

"The vehicle in which they were travelling was swept off the road into floodwaters. Three of our members were rescued. One of those members is deceased," he told a news conference.

Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk identified the victim as State Emergency Services volunteer Merryl Dray in a message of condolence to her family.

Elsewhere, another man's body was found overnight.

"In some parts of south-east Queensland, this is the biggest event that they will see in a number of decades," said state police and emergency services minister Mark Ryan.

"And the rain has not stopped — in fact, there are some parts where it is intensifying."

The Queensland town of Gympie was facing a "lot of water" as the Mary River rose, Mayor Glen Hartwig was quoted as saying by national broadcaster ABC.

In the town's Royal Hotel, "without a submarine or a snorkel, you will not be having a beer," Mr Hartwig said.

"It's floor-to-ceiling and over the roof in some areas."

Updated: February 26, 2022, 10:42 AM