Australia floods cause “catastrophic” damage

Australia’s record floods are causing catastrophic damage to infrastructure in the state of Queensland and have forced 75 percent of its coal mines, which fuel Asia’s steel mills, to grind to a halt, Queensland’s premier said on Wednesday.

The worst flooding in decades has affected an area the size of Germany and France, leaving towns virtual islands in a muddy inland sea, devastated crops, cut major rail and road links to coal ports, slashed exports and forced up world coal prices.

“Seventy-five percent of our mines are currently not operation because of this flood,” Premier Anna Bligh told local television. “So, that’s a massive impact on the international markets and the international manufacturer of steel.”

The Australian floods, which have cut off 22 towns and affected 200,000 people, have resulted from the La Nina weather phenomenon, which produces monsoonal rains over the western Pacific and Southeast Asia.

The La Nina is expected to last another three months after it produced Australia’s third-wettest year on record in 2010, the nation’s weather bureau said on Wednesday.

“Queensland is a very big state. It relies on the lifelines of its transport system, and those transport systems in some cases are facing catastrophic damage,” said Bligh.