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Queensland flood death toll rises to six

By Australia Correspondent Steve Marshall in Bundaberg

Published: 5:38AM Wednesday January 30, 2013 Source: ONE News

By Australia Correspondent Steve Marshall in Bundaberg

A sixth death has been confirmed in Queensland as water levels from a record flood peak start to recede in the city of Bundaberg.

The body of a 34-year-old man was found in a car submerged in Sandy Creek at Glen Cairn, near Gatton, on Wednesday morning.

Police have confirmed a second body was found nearby.

The 34-year-old was travelling to work from Gatton to Mulgowie at 5am  on Sunday with his 25-year-old mate following in a second car.

Both were swept off the road by rising floodwaters.

Police divers discovered the second man's body on Wednesday afternoon.

Four other people have died in flooding caused by ex-cyclone Oswald.

A three-year-old boy died after a tree fell on him in Brisbane, and three men died in floodwaters - one south of Brisbane, one at Burnett Heads near Bundaberg, and the other near Gympie.

The news comes as Australian Defence Force personnel enter the flood stricken city of Bundaberg.

The town has been the hardest hit and large parts remain cut off from power and emergency services this evening. More than 7,500 people are homeless with entire suburbs expected to remain submerged until the weekend. 

The local river that runs through the heart of the city peaked at 9.7 metres, just 2cm below the levee, surging through 3000 homes and businesses and forcing more than a thousand helicopter rescues.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said soldiers will be able to enter the area this evening.

"One hundred and twenty soldiers, 44 vehicles will be on their way from Enorgra barracks, trying to get through to Bundaberg. They should be there before nightfall and they will swing into action," he said earlier today.

He said other army resources were on standby to head to flood-hit surrounding communities such as Mundubbera, Gayndah, Eidsvold and Monto.

ONE News reporter Lisa Owen, who is in Jimboomba south of Brisbane, says access is still a major issue in the area.

Roads are still flooded or covered with debris.

Shops in the area are running out of basic supplies with several towns cut off by road.

Meanwhile, Newman has urged Queenslanders to aid disaster victims. "They all need our support. We've got to reach out and help them now," he said.

Newman also paid tribute to the resilience of residents, who in some cases have weathered four floods in three years.
  
"It's incredible to see the spirit of Queenslanders out on the streets of their cities and towns as they grapple with what is a big crisis."
  
Citrus growers furious

Some citrus orchards in Queensland's southeast have been completely wiped out, leaving residents furious.

The town was hard hit in the 2011 floods, but this time the water was 2m higher.

Judy Shepherd, of the Fruit Growers Association says damage has been catastrophic and that they don't know if orchards will ever full recover.

'We need people to start getting behind agriculture and realising we're the reason that these towns are here, they won't be here if we can't stay here," she told ONE News.

She says residents were not given enough warning and wants Government to acknowledge they "can't go on with little dribbles of funding."

NZ Government offers help

The New Zealand Government confirmed this afternoon that it has offered support to flood stricken regions in Australia.

Prime Minster John Key says he has spoken personally to the Queensland Premier Campbell Newman.

He said they would offer assistance to New South Wales also if required.

"At this point, neither of them have requested any help, if they did we'd closely look at it," he said.

Key said New Zealand was prepared to offer expertise or specialised personal rather than financial assistance.

Huge damage bill
 
As the flood waters recede, attention will turn to the huge damage bill and recovery task.
  
Already 9,800 insurance claims have been lodged in Queensland worth a combined $A116 million, according to the Insurance Council of Australia.
  
The damage to infrastructure is still being assessed but it is estimated the bill will still reach the hundreds of millions, without counting crop and livestock losses.
  
The Queensland premier is urging people to donate to the government's Queensland Flood Appeal which is being co-ordinated with Red Cross.
  
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Governor-General Quentin Bryce are expected to visit flood-affected regions in Queensland in coming days.

Follow Steve Marshall on Twitter

- wth AAP and Reuters

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