Army help out as Aussie floods claim second life

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Military planes are flying food and other supplies towards a major city being slowly swamped in Australia's flood emergency and police are increasing patrols in evacuated regions amid reports of looting.

Floodwaters that cover an area the size of France and Germany combined are draining slowly towards the country's northeast coast, filling bulging rivers to overflowing and inundating at least 22 towns and cities in the cattle and fruit and vegetable farming region.

A second person has been confirmed dead as a result of the flooding. The fatality follows a 41-year-old woman who was swept away as she drove her car.

Searches are under way for two other people, men in separate locations in Queensland, who were missing after being last seen in the floodwaters.

State authorities say about 200-thousand people have been affected by the floods and Prime Minister Julia Gillard has extended emergency relief to them, including low-interest loans to farmers to begin cleaning up and get their businesses running again.

In Rockhampton, a coastal city of about 75-thousand people, waters from the still-swelling Fitzroy River closed the airport, cut the main highway leading to the state capital of Brisbane and sent scores of families to abandon their homes for relief centres set up on high ground.

Officials have been evacuating Rockhampton residents for days and the mayor warned about 40 per cent of the city could be affected by the surging waters, adding residents could be forced to wait at least two weeks before returning home.

Police officials say they have increased their patrols of flooded towns with uniformed officers wading thigh-deep through floodwaters and had not confirmed any reports of looting.

Some residents, however, said cars and homes had been broken into and items stolen.

The wet weather that triggered the flooding has eased and water levels were dropping in some towns. But officials said about one thousand people were living in evacuation centres across Queensland and it may be a month before the floodwaters dry up completely.

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