Flights stopped and crocodiles seen roaming streets as severe floods hit Australia’s Queensland

Queensland residents facing heavy rain and power outages as hundreds evacuate or forced to cling to roofs

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Monday 18 December 2023 07:12 GMT

Crocodile lurks in creek as severe floods hit Australia

Heavy rainfall has brought severe flooding to Queensland in northeast Australia, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate their homes or cling to rooftops awaiting rescue.

More than 300 people were evacuated overnight from floodwaters amid concerns that Cairns – a city of nearly 160,000 people – would run out of fresh drinking water. Cairns received more than an average of two metres of rain in the past week.

The downpour, triggered in part by ex-tropical cyclone Jasper, produced more than 500mm of rainfall in the Daintree, Mossman and Barron catchments over the past 24 hours, the Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland, said, adding that the figures could be higher.

Aerial view of flooding caused by heavy rains, in Cairns

Cairns Airport was temporarily shut on Monday and flights were either cancelled or postponed due to flooding as planes were partly submerged on the airport tarmac.

Authorities were preparing to evacuate the entire town of Wujal Wujal in Far North Queensland by helicopter due to rising flood waters. The remote Indigenous community north of Port Douglas has been completely cut off due to the heavy downpour.

Partially-submerged small planes at Cairns Airport in Cairns, Australia Monday

Nine locals, including a seven-year-old child, were forced to spend Sunday night stranded on a hospital roof before being able to self-evacuate, officials said.

The category 2 tropical cyclone passed close by Wujal Wujal last Wednesday but the community has been since lashed by multiple bouts of torrential rainfall that continued into Monday.

Roads and railway lines were cut, communities were isolated and 14,000 homes and businesses were without power on Monday.

Severe weather warnings were in place in nearby Port Douglas, Daintree, Cooktown, Wujal Wujal and Hope Vale, with more rain forecast.

Queensland state police commissioner Katarina Carroll described the flooding as “absolutely devastating". “Last night, we had an extraordinarily challenging, challenging evening, rescuing some 300 people,” she told reporters.

Amid the incessant rain and power outage, the people of north Queensland were also forced to deal with the fear of crocodiles after the reptiles were spotted walking down streets.

ABC journalist Chloe Chomicki recorded a video of a crocodile in a drain in Ingham – a town of about 5,000 people. The crocodiles were also spotted in the floodwaters of Wujal Wujal over the weekend.

The crocodile was later relocated by wildlife rangers with the help of the local police.

"The problem is the rain won't stop and until it eases up, we can't get aerial support into remote places," the state's premier, Steven Miles, told ABC.

"We see a lot of natural disasters and this is just about the worst I can remember."

He told Queensland residents asking for military intervention that the government was doing all it could amid the treacherous conditions.

“We know you’ve had a tough night … We have heroes on the ground who have been out all night. We deployed literally every boat we could get our hands on in Cairns to evacuate those who couldn’t safely evacuate themselves. And more help is on the way,” he added.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in