Toowoomba Flash Flood Kills 8, Displaces Thousands

Surging waters swept through the Australian city of Toowoomba in Southeast Queensland on Tuesday, killing at least eight people and leaving 72 others missing as the worst flooding to hit the state in more than 20 years continued to worsen.

Rescuers braved strong current and difficult weather to reach stranded residents as fears that the death toll from the flood could rise. Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh said four of the eight casualties on Tuesday were children, and many of those declared missing are minors and families. “We expect that figure to rise and potentially quite dramatically,” Bligh said of the death toll.

Meanwhile, thousands of residents have been evacuated in other low-lying areas of Queensland, including in Brisbane, as flood waters from Toowoomba continue to move towards the coast. Residents of Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city, have been told to sandbag their homes and move to higher ground if possible.

Bligh said the situation in her state was “grim and desperate,” adding that the flood was unexpected that people failed to prepare for it. “This took everybody so unawares that there was no opportunity in most cases for people to get to safety,” Bligh said according to an Associated Press report.