Emergency services and Australian military personnel stepped up the search for dozens of people still missing in Queensland on Thursday as authorities and residents started to assess the damage caused by the state's worst flooding in decades.
Floodwaters which had carved a muddy trail of destruction through Brisbane, the state capital, have started to recede but officials warned the cleanup operation would take months.
More than 20,000 homes were inundated with water after the normally subdued Brisbane River turned into a raging torrent as weeks of rain combined with bulging dams and high tides to push it to a peak of over four meters at high tide early Thursday.
At a news conference, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh fought back tears as she described the damage inflicted by the state's "worst natural disaster in our history."
"This morning, thousands of people in southeast Queensland have awakened to the unbearable agony of their homes being devastated, their businesses, their workplaces being devastated and, for some people, they've seen both their workplaces and their homes washed away," Bligh said.
The death toll rose to 15 Thursday as around 200 people, including Australian Defence Forces, Special Emergency Services and police, combed vast tracts of land and swollen waters for 70 people still missing.FULL STORY