The National- Wednesday, January 12, 2011
By JUNIOR UKAHA
Heavy rains and flash floods in Toowoomba, Australia, has forced the PNG consulate in Brisbane to shut its doors and cancel operations yesterday.
As of 1pm, Paul Nerau, PNG’s consulate general in Brisbane ordered his staff to stop work and move to safer places due to the floods at the headwaters of Brisbane River that had ravaged homes and displaced the locals at Toowoomba.
Nerau, who spoke on Radio Australia, said the reason for stopping operations was to make sure the staff and their families were safe from the flood.
Nerau made this call after Brisbane lord mayor, Campbell Newman, said that the Brisbane River was expected to flood its bank today by 3m and that the water was expected to rise by another 1.2m to 4.2m tomorrow.
Radio Australia reported that the latest flash flood at Toowoomba had claimed eight people while 72 others went missing and 50 people trapped in a school.
It also said that hundreds of homes and vehicles had been washed away by the flood in what seemed to be a major disaster after 40 years.
Nerau when interviewed said he was also concerned about the safety of hundreds of Papua New Guineans living, working and schooling in Toowoomba.
“I am concerned as many Papua New Guinean students in particular attend schools in Toowoomba,” he said.
Nerau said at the moment he was working with the relevant authorities in Australia to find out how many Papua New Guineans were affected by the flood and whether or not they have died as a result of the flood.
He, however, did not say anything as to whether or not the PNG government would look at the plight of those Papua New Guineans living in the area and have been affected by the flood.
Meanwhile, Radio Australia reported that places that were worst affected by the flood included Ipswich, Brisbane and Toowoomba, all within the state of Queensland.
The flooding is expected to continue till the end of the week.