Australia floods: National emergency to be declared as ‘major catastrophe’ claims 22 lives | World News

A national emergency will be declared in Australia after 22 people died in floods along the east coast.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement during a visit to Lismore in New South Wales where four people lost their lives, adding: “This is a major catastrophe… of national proportions.”

He said the move will “ensure all our emergency powers are available and that we cut through any red tape we might face in delivering services and support on the ground”.

Scott Morrison speaks to the media in Lismore and declares a national emergency. Pic: AP
Scott Morrison speaks to the media in Lismore and declares a national emergency. Pic: AP

It is the first such declaration since a law was passed in December 2020 in response to catastrophic wildfires.

But many victims are angry that authorities did not come to their aid earlier – with some residents needing to be rescued from flooded homes by neighbours.

Heavy rains have created the current emergency in New South Wales and Queensland states, where some of the flooded communities were battling fires two years ago.

Some areas have endured the highest floods ever recorded prompting mass evacuations.

Community members prevented ‘death toll in the hundreds’

Opposition emergency management spokesman Murray Watt told Australian Broadcasting Corp that if community members had not stepped up, “we would have been seeing a death toll in the hundreds of people”.

He added: “While people are grateful for the assistance they’ve had from the army, there’s just nowhere near enough of it.”

The number of military personnel helping in the flood recovery in northern New South Wales was set to increase by 700 to 2,500 on Wednesday.

More than 20,000 homes and businesses were flooded in southeast Queensland and 13 people died.

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Deluges have hit Queensland and New South Wales

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales and Australia‘s biggest city with a population of five million, has endured the wettest start to a year ever recorded.

While rain has eased in recent days, 40,000 people around New South Wales had been ordered to evacuate, including from dozens of Sydney suburbs.

New South Wales’ death toll increased to nine on Wednesday with police announcing that the body of a 50-year-old truck driver had been found in floodwater on the outskirts of Sydney.

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