Giant flood lake threatens towns
A vast lake created by floodwaters is to spread across southeastern Australia and threaten rural towns in its path for up to 10 more days, officials have warned.
The flooding began more than a month ago in Australia's northeast Queensland state, where 30 people died, and more than 30,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.
Record rains have shifted the emergency focus to southeast Victoria state, which is usually parched during the southern summer.
State Emergency Service spokesman Lachlan Quick said a lake about 55 miles long northwest of the Victorian capital Melbourne would continue coursing inland for the next seven to 10 days until it spills into the Murray River.
The flood was about 22 miles from the river, SES said.
Mr Quick said 75 towns in the state had been affected by flooding and another five to 10 towns were still in the floodwaters' path across flat wheat-growing country.
Almost 2,000 homes and businesses were flooded or isolated and close to 5,000 people have been evacuated, SES said.
"It's not moving as one big, swamping wall, it's not a wave as such," Mr Quick said.
"It's just a big, wide, long swathe of water."
"I'm from up that way and it's totally unprecedented to have a flood in January," he added.
At this time of year, Victoria is usually tinder dry and at the peak of its wildfire season.