Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited flooded areas in the south-eastern state of Victoria on Sunday – as emergency services warned thousands of properties were flooded by up to 12 meters of water.
Albanese said the scenes were “devastating” during a visit to the town of Bendigo and a helicopter ride over the town of Rochester, where a 71-year-old man was found dead in a flooded yard on Saturday.
“Over 100 ADF by the end of today [Australian Defence Force] workers will be on the ground in Victoria,” Albanes told reporters.
ADF personnel are assisting with flood rescue, recovery and protection efforts against the expected high water levels in the coming days.
Speaking alongside Albanese, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said 355 roads in Victoria remained closed due to flooding and “6,000” properties around the town of Mooroopna remained without power.
“There’s a really significant challenge there — just the amount of water and the level it’s coming up to,” Andrews said.
Emergency warnings are in place in and around the Shepparton area, including a ‘stay out too late’ warning for residents.
Floodwaters in that area are expected to rise to 12.2 metres, which would inundate more than 7,000 homes, Tim Wiebusch of the Victoria State Emergency Service said on Sunday.
The death of a 71-year-old man on Saturday brings to two the number of people killed in floods across south-east Australia this past week.
On October 11, the body of a 46-year-old man was found in a submerged vehicle near Bathurst, New South Wales.
Victoria Police said the exact circumstances surrounding the recent death of the 71-year-old are unclear.
Hundreds of people have already been rescued, Wiebusch reported, warning that more evacuation orders would be issued in the coming days.
Wild weather has hit Australia lately. Historic rainfall brought on by La Niña conditions has caused rivers to rise beyond their banks and leave thousands homeless.
Speaking on Saturday, Andrews said the number of flooded homes and isolated communities would “almost certainly increase as we see the peak of flooding”.