NZ Civil Defence team back to Condamine

The New Zealand Civil Defence team helping residents of flood-stricken Queensland has been forced to return to the town of Condamine, as more floods again hit the town they had just left.

The 15-strong team is now working alongside Australian emergency management staff to help relocate the worst-affected Condamine residents to Miles, 30km to the north.

The towns are about 350km inland from Brisbane.

Late last night the team was forced to move because rising waters threatened their campsite.

"The river that runs through Condamine was rising rapidly and expected to overtop the bridge by midnight which would have meant the team would have been marooned inside Condamine," Civil Defence director John Hamilton told One News.

"So the decision was made by the Queensland authorities to move the team out of Condamine during the dark."

The team returned to Condamine today.

Access from the west to Toowomba and Brisbane was cut by flooding but "our team is safe and in good spirits", he said.

The New Zealand team, which is expected to stay in Queensland for nearly two more weeks, is assigned tasks by the Queensland state authorities and Mr Hamilton expects it to be involved in helping the clean-up in the Dalby and Toowoomba area, roughly between Brisbane and Condamine, during coming days.

The violent water surge near Toowoomba, a city of some 90,000 people, after a fresh storm Monday escalated Queensland's two-week-old flood crisis and brought the overall death toll to 18.

An intense deluge fell over a concentrated area, sending a 8m, fast-moving torrent crashing through Toowoomba.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Red Cross is preparing to send a three-person management team to join its Australian counterparts.

The team will be briefed in Wellington and is expected to fly to Australia in about 48 hours after the dramatic worsening of the situation since yesterday, said international operations manager Andrew McKie.

The team is expected to spend 10 days at the Australian Red Cross coordination centre in Brisbane, with possible rotation of fresh staff.

Queensland has been in the grip of its worst flooding for more than two weeks, after tropical downpours across a vast area of the state covered an area the size of France and Germany combined. Entire towns have been swamped, more than 200,000 people affected, and coal and farming industries virtually shut down.

Meanwhile, NZ Red Cross is directing offers of donations to the Queensland Premier's Disaster Response Appeal at the website http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html

"We're encouraging people to donate cash to the established Queensland fund rather than goods because it means the right aid can be given more quickly and can often be bought locally to support economic recovery," Mr McKie said.

- NZPA

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