Queensland, Australia Floods, Then Brisbane, Death Toll Rises

Flood waters have begun to recede in Brisbane and other Queensland towns, but officials warned it may be days before many can return to their homes. The death toll from the disaster in northeastern Australia has climbed over two dozen.

Heavy rain devastated wide areas of farmland and small towns in the state of Queensland. As the water drains, rivers are rising in Brisbane, the country’s third-largest city, forcing people to flee both suburbs and high rises.

Flooding turned violent Monday, when a storm caused a major flash flood down the Lockyer Valley west of Brisbane. Hundreds of people were rescued by helicopter Tuesday.

There are reports received that water surged six or 10 feet high, through creeks and over bridges and into parks and open land. The surge of water was about a kilometer (a half-mile) wide.

At least 10 people were reported killed and more than 90 missing from the latest surge.

A total of 20 deaths have been reported including the previous weeks of high water starting in November.

Rescue helicopter pilot Mark Kempton returned home on a well-deserved break after rescuing victims of the Queensland floods, and found his house flooded.