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Tropical storms continue to batter Queensland

Tornadoes following cyclone Oswald wreak havoc in coastal towns in Australian state, killing at least one man.

Last Modified: 01 May 2013 10:19
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The towns of Bargara and Burnett Heads were declared disaster areas following the tornadoes [Reuters]

Heavy rain, strong winds and tornadoes following cyclone Oswald have continued to batter coastal towns in Queensland, killing at least one man and damaging many homes, Australian media reported.

The body of an elderly man was pulled from floodwaters at Burnett Heads on Sunday, while a woman and a man remain missing in Maryborough and Gympie.

About 17 people have been injured and 150 homes damaged after at least six tornadoes hit the Bundaberg region since Saturday.

At least 40 houses have been inundated in the Gladstone region, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The towns of Bargara and Burnett Heads were declared disaster areas following the tornadoes, and the Bureau of Meteorology warned there was a "strong possibility" of further tornado activity, local media reported.

On Sunday Queensland Premier Campbell Newman visited Bargara with local officials to inspect the damage, and found torn roofs, smashed windows, and a piece of wood lodged through a door by the force of the winds.

"I certainly suggest that people should be helping friends, relatives, one another, taking people in who have been displaced from homes and of course trying to lend a hand wherever we can," Newman told reporters in Bargara.

In nearby Bundaberg, hundreds of homes and businesses are at risk of flooding.

Residents waited nervously as floodwaters rose close to their front doors.

"If it (heavy rain) hits again tonight, our house will be destroyed," Liesha Bland told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

On Sunday afternoon, the Federal government deployed three army helicopters to help with evacuations in the Bundaberg area, and Treasurer Wayne Swan confirmed further army assistance would be made available.

"The full assets of the defence force are on standby if required," Swan told reporters in Brisbane.

At least 21 swift-water rescues have taken place in Queensland, local media reported.

Across the region tens of thousands of homes are without power, and electricity companies said it could take up to two days to restore services to some areas.

Flights were cancelled at Gold Coast airport, while high tides washed against breakwaters at Redcliffe, north of Brisbane.

Heavy rain and winds are forecast to hit Brisbane on Sunday night.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued severe weather warnings for a 500km stretch of Australia's east coast from central Queensland to the New South Wales border.

The wild weather is expected to reach New South Wales on Monday.

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