Rising rivers swamp another Australian town


Authorities told townspeople in Australia’s southeast to flee homes with three days of supplies Wednesday as a surging river threatened another community in a flooding crisis that has devastated the country’s mining industry.

Up to 1,500 homes in Kerang, in the north of Victoria state, could be affected if the Lodden River rises any further. The flooding in Victoria follows weeks of massive flooding in northeastern Queensland, which swamped two-thirds of the giant state, paralyzed several mines and left 30 people dead.

One of the victims, a 13-year-old boy, was buried alongside his mother Wednesday after becoming a national hero for insisting that rescuers first save his younger brother when their family car was gripped by a raging torrent of water.

Elsewhere in Queensland, authorities gave several of the state’s waterlogged coal mines special exemptions to environmental rules so they could pump water out into their already-flooded surroundings. The mining industry estimates the flooding has cost 2.3 billion Australian dollars ($2.3 billion) in lost sales of coal, Australia’s most lucrative export, causing a shortage that has pushed up global prices.

In Victoria, more than 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) south of the Bowen Basin which holds most of Queensland’s coal mines, the Kerang levee breached at several points and townspeople were urged to head for a relief center on higher ground, the State Emergency Service (SES) said.

“You should ensure you have left your property immediately,” the SES said in text message alerts sent about 5:20 a.m. to the town’s 2,500 residents.