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Australia flood crisis causes 'catastrophic' damage

Torsten Blackwood / AFP - Getty Images

A vehicle drives down the flooded runway at Rockhampton Airport, Jan. 5, after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks and inundated much of the city. Hundreds of Australians scrambled in the rain to build levee banks and evacuate hospital patients on Jan. 5 as floods that have inundated or cut off 40 towns rolled downstream.

Daniel Munoz / Reuters

A tiger yard ornament is partially submerged in the front garden of a house at Depot Hill in Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia, January 5. Floodwaters eased in Australia's major coal mining region on Tuesday to allow some mines to slowly resume production, although most remain idle as devastating floods affect some 200,000 people and force towns to be evacuated.

Jonathan Wood / Getty Images

A main street of the city center is shown covered in flood water, Jan. 5, in Rockhampton, Australia. All eyes are on the central Queensland city of Rockhampton, currently in floodwatch lock down as the community braces for the swollen Fitzroy River to reach a predicted peak of 9.4 metres. The Queensland flood crisis has resulted in ten deaths and affected more than 200,000 people across an area as large as France and Germany combined. The flood bill is predicted to be upwards of AUD5 billion.

msnbc.com staff and news service reports:

Australia's record floods are causing catastrophic damage to infrastructure in the state of Queensland and have forced 75 percent of its coal mines — which fuel Asia's steel mills — to grind to a halt, Queensland's premier said Wednesday.

The worst flooding in decades has affected an area the size of Germany and France, left towns virtual islands in a muddy inland sea, devastated crops, cut major rail and road links to coal ports, slashed exports and forced up world coal prices.

Around 1,200 homes in Queensland have been inundated, with another 10,700 suffering some damage, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said Wednesday. Some 22 towns have been cut off.

Some 200,000 people have been affected by the deluge.