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Rooftop rescues in Australia as tens of thousands evacuated from floodsMore than 400mm of rain has fallen in the past 24 hours around Lismore, with the town’s Wilson River still risingBRISBANE • Tens of thousands of Australians were ordered to flee their homes yesterday, as torrential rain sent floodwaters to record levels, leaving residents stranded on the rooftops of their homes.Eight people have died (at press time), and the country’s weather bureau has warned further severe thunderstorms and intense rainfall will cause “life-threatening flash flooding” across a swathe of the central Pacific coastal region.In the country town of Lismore, resident Danika Hardiman woke yesterday morning to find mudbrown floodwaters had reached the balcony of her second-floor apartment.She and her partner managed to climb up to the roof, where they were spotted by passing kayakers, who flagged down a makeshift rescue boat.“We were rescued by two guys in a boat, two locals,” Hardiman told AFP, describing the scenes in Lismore as “horrific”.A Queensland Fire and Rescue Swift Water crew prepare to move through the flooded streets in the city of Paddington in suburban Brisbane, AustraliaAFP“Imagine you’re in a boat sailing past people’s roofs,” she said. “The scary thing is this is just the beginning, there’s lots of rain to come.”With the town’s levees already breached, 43,000 residents were ordered to leave by yesterday morning.Emergency services were overwhelmed by calls for aid, leading some locals — including Lismore’s Mayor Steve Krieg — to turn to social media for help.“If anyone has a boat and can get to Engine Street, there’s a pregnant lady sitting on her roof. HELP please,” he posted on Facebook yesterday.Emergency rescue services said they had also deployed a helicopter to pluck other stranded residents from rooftops.More than 400mm of rain has fallen in the past 24 hours around Lismore, with the town’s Wilson River still rising, according to the weather bureau.Water levels in Lismore have not yet reached their expected peak of 14m — but they are already the worst floods the town has experienced. — AFP
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