Police urge all residents of remote Burketown town to evacuate, warning that record-high floodwaters were expected to rise further over the weekend.
Emergency services in Australia's Queensland state have evacuated residents to higher ground, as record-breaking floods sparked by heavy rain lashed the region's northwest.
Fifty three residents of the isolated Gulf Country town of Burketown, about 2,115 km northwest of state capital Brisbane, had been evacuated since heavy rain triggered floods earlier this week, police said on Saturday.
Murky water lapped at the sides of buildings and transformed wide areas of land into lakes, with only the tops of trees visible, television images of the Queensland town showed.
"We are strongly urging all remaining residents to leave the community of Burketown as soon as possible," Queensland police said in a statement posted on social media.
The elderly and young children were a priority for evacuation, they said, adding that sewerage systems had been "compromised" and power would be cut off later in the day.
Around 100 residents remained in the town, with police urging a full evacuation on Saturday, as the nation's weather forecaster predicted river levels in the area to peak on Sunday.
"We are confident we can move the remaining people if we have to," Superintendent Tom Armitt told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation [ABC], adding that floodwaters were still rising in the remote area.
An Emergency Alert has been issued for residents in Burketown due to ongoing flooding.— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) March 11, 2023
All remaining residents are being urged to leave.
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La Nina event
The emergency comes after frequent flooding in Australia's east over the last two years due to a multi-year La Nina weather event, including "once in a century" floods that hit remote areas in the neighbouring Northern Territory, in January.
At Burketown, the flood topped the March 2011 record of 6.87 metres after up to 293 mm of rain fell on Thursday and Friday, the Bureau of Meteorology previously said.
Police were co-ordinating the evacuation via helicopter to the mining town of Mount Isa, about 425 km south.
At Gregory, a small town about 120 km south of Burketown, the impact of flooding was not yet clear as contacting the community remained difficult, the ABC reported.
Flood alerts were current on Saturday for large swaths of Queensland, and there were also warnings for severe storms, heavy rainfall, and potential flash flooding in many parts, including the Gulf Country.