Wednesday, January 12, 2011

DFA: Pinoys in Australia safe amid floods

No Filipino was reported to be among the casualties in floods that hit Brisbane and other areas of Queensland in Australia, even as some affected families have been evacuated to safer grounds, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday citing a report from the Philippine Embassy in Canberra.

"The Filipinos affected by the floods are currently in evacuation centers. The Philippine Honorary Consul in Brisbane Alan Albert Gummit said that the Filipinos in the area are safe and in government-designated evacuation centers and there are no known Filipino casualties as of the moment," Philippine Charges d'Affaires Mary Anne Padua said on the DFA website.

The Philippine Embassy is ready to help those affected by the floods, Padua said, adding that they are in touch with the Honorary Consulate in Brisbane and the Filipino community leaders there. 

“The Honorary Consulate has been instructed to continue coordinating with the Filipinos in the area to ascertain their conditions and to extend assistance to those in need," Padua said.

She said those in flooded areas have instructions from Australian authorities to stay in the evacuation centers until the floods recede.

Roads going to the flood-affected areas are inaccessible as of this time, and electricity and communications lines are down, the DFA said.

The DFA said that of the 300,000 Filipinos in Australia, 18,000 are in Queensland.

Rains have stopped in the region, allowing Australian authorities to mount search and rescue efforts.

Worst since 1973 

Rivers overflowed and spawned floods in Queensland after eastern Australia experienced two weeks of heavy rains brought by tropical cyclone Tasha combined with a La NiƱa weather pattern — said to be the strongest since 1973.

Vast areas of the Australian state — the size of France and Germany combined — were affected by the floods, especially in four major river basis.

An estimated 300 roads have been closed, including nine major highways. Electricity and communications have been cut in several areas.

On Wednesday morning, the entire central business district of Ipswich was completely closed off when a quarry filled with water collapsed in the town of Fernvale, flooding homes and leaving hundreds of people stranded.

More than 50,000 people in southeast Queensland were without power Wednesday morning, including 15,000 in Brisbane and 22,000 in Ipswich.

In Brisbane, thousands of homes and businesses were inundated as swirling flood waters rose in and around the riverside city, triggering residents to flee with few possessions to higher ground and evacuation centers.

The floods have also reached the bordering state of New South Wales, with about 4,500 people stranded, the DFA said.

About 2,000 residents in the Lower Clarence Valley in northern New South Wales have been ordered to evacuate.

Search and rescue efforts are ongoing to search for the more than 90 people missing, as 20 people have been reported dead due to the flooding, the DFA said.—JV, GMANews.TV

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