A cyclone has caused widespread flooding in Queensland leaving thousands without shelter and water.
The vast rural area is as big as Germany and France combined and so a massive evacuation has been launched to help residents in the north east of Australia.
Many have had their cars and caravans swamped and have taken to kayaks and boats to evade the water.
It is the wettest December on record in Brisbane in 150 years. The flooding in Queensland has affected around 20 towns in the region such as Bundaberg, Rockhampton and others around the Great Barrier Reef.
Rising floodwater is currently threatening 4,000 homes in Rockhampton. One tenth of the population of the town of Emerald were evacuated. It is expected water will swamp 80% of the town. A further 300 people were airlifted from the town of Theodore.
The storm was caused by Cyclone Tasha and has devastated the agricultural and industrial areas of Brisbane. Coal mining and farming communities have been hit hard by the disruption of rail and road transport.
BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have had major production problems because of the flooding while millions of crops are ruined which will push up the prices of sugar and bananas. Bundaberg port and Rockhampton airport are also closed.
The damage will already run into several billions of dollars to repair and there are predictions of worse to come.
Queensland premier Anna Bligh said the situation was dire and that the crisis was far from over, with relief operations lasting for weeks afterwards. Contaminated water is one of the biggest threats.
"Three major river systems are flooding which has meant the need for 17 evacuation centres active.
“There are more than 1,000 people in those evacuation centres, and they will likely be joined by more from towns such as Rockhampton as floodwaters increase. We have a lot to do before we can really say we are in full recovery mode."