Floods swallow cars, swamp houses

MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — Flash floods swamped hundreds of homes in southeastern Australia and thousands of people were warned to flee surging waters threatening towns across three separate states Friday.

A major flooding emergency was unfolding in Victoria— Australia’s second most populous state — where rapidly-rising waters forced evacuations in the Melbourne suburb of Maribyrnong.

Cars left on the streets of the suburb were almost completely swallowed by the floods, while some stranded residents had to be saved by inflatable rescue boats.

The ground floor of the Anglers Tavern, a pub on the banks of the Maribyrnong River, was underwater.

State leader Daniel Andrews told reporters 500 homes in Victoria had been “inundated,” while a further 500 properties were surrounded by floods and cut off from emergency services.

“That number will definitely grow. We have choppers in the air at the moment making damage assessments,” Andrews said early Friday afternoon.

While the worst of the rain had passed by late Friday morning, the state emergency service warned the floods would get worse as water flowed downstream into swollen river catchments.

“Our flood emergency here in Victoria continues to escalate,” emergency services spokesperson Tim Wiebusch told reporters.

“There are not many parts of Victoria that aren’t experiencing major flooding over the coming days.”

About 4,000 homes in Shepparton, about two hours north of Melbourne, could be flooded by early next week, Wiebusch said.

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