Qld flash flooding hampers rescue crews

Heavy drought-soothing rain has left motorists stranded in northwest Queensland and hampered emergency and clean-up teams at a freight train derailment.


Pouring rain from the tropical low in the Gulf of Carpentaria over the weekend brought relief to Queensland’s parched northwest but forecasters are braced for new flooding fears.

The Bureau of Meteorology on Sunday downgraded the cyclone warning over the Gulf as the tropical monsoonal low brought flash flooding to both coastal and inland areas in the most remote parts of the state.

The Flinders Highway near Julia Creek was cut due to flood waters on Sunday morning which also made it difficult for emergency teams to access a derailed Aurizon train 150m from the highway at Quarrells.

The freight train spilled diesel fuel and 200,000 litres of sulfuric acid while three Aurizon employees suffered minor injuries in the incident in which all 26 carriages and the locomotive came off the tracks.

Most rainfall was registered in Burketown when 189mm fell in the 24 hours until 9am on Sunday.

The torrential rainfall saw 10 people stranded by flood waters at nearby Harris Creek airlifted to safety on Saturday afternoon, with another seven motorists opting to stay with their vehicles.

While forecasters can’t say whether it will be drought-breaking for some areas of the state, the falls have been the biggest this wet season and more thunderstorms are expected around Mt Isa and Cloncurry.

The tropical low is expected to continue to drift eastwards but the bureau is warning about the potential for flash flooding north of Townsville, especially around Innisfail, on Tuesday.

Forecaster Adam Blazak said heavy rains were expected as the tropical low moved over Queensland and a convergence zone would also come into play.

“There will be northwesterly winds colliding with southeasterly winds along that north tropical coast,” he told AAP.

“That’s a recipe for heavy falls as well.”

The BOM has also issued a thunderstorm warning for most of southeast Queensland on Sunday evening.

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