Residents stranded in crocodile-infested flood town in Australia
Around 70 people have been left stranded in a flooded Queensland town that is likely infested with crocodiles.
There have been several reported sightings of crocodiles swimming in flood waters in Burketown as the Albert River to the town’s east continues to rise.
Residents are bracing for the peak of record flooding on Sunday as authorities warn any remaining people, particularly the elderly and children, to leave immediately.
Zachariah Sowden, the ranger in charge of the Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, warned Burketown residents to stay out of the water.
“As the flood waters start to enter town from the surrounding river systems the local population of saltwater crocodiles will also move with these flood waters. A few crocodiles have already been sighted in different areas of the community.
“Please … stay out of the water where possible to limit a chance encounter with a crocodile.”
Mayor Ernie Camp, who was evacuated on Saturday, said crocodiles, and potentially even bull sharks, could pose a threat to residents who chose to stay behind.
Aerial footage shows water flooding in almost every street of Burketown and ravaging buildings.
Queensland police superintendent Tom Armitt said rescues would become more difficult if the waters continued to rise.
“If we get to the stage where we are having to shift and move people to rooftops, that makes a whole different level of complexity.
“We don’t know when the peak is expected because it has passed any sort of flood modelling at this stage.”
The Albert River at Burketown has already surpassed the record 6.78-metre flood of 2011, and the bureau of meteorology said waters in the Gulf of Carpentaria community will likely reach their highest by Sunday.
About 90 locals still in Burketown were told to pack a grab bag on Friday night after 25 elderly and sick people, along with 18 children accompanied by one of their parents, were airlifted out.
Authorities warned that sewerage to the town had been compromised and power cut-off on Saturday.
Queensland police said of Burketown: “It is not safe for people to remain.”
The council also urged residents to leave on Saturday, warning the floods were rapidly rising and unpredictable.
“Waters are continuing to rise in the Burketown community and surrounding shire,” the council said. “At the moment the water movements are unpredictable and are rising at a rapid rate. The safety of our community members is paramount and we strongly encourage residents to evacuate.”