Crocodiles and sharks add extra bite to Australian flood risks

As the Australian state of Queensland suffers from widespread flooding, residents in a number of towns have been warned to stay indoors amid fears that the waters now contain crocodiles and sharks.

Queensland Police said they continue to respond to the severe weather event affecting the Nicholson Gregory Catchment area, with major flooding still occurring in Burketown and the Gregory River.

“Due to the current conditions, it is unsafe for displaced people to return to their homes and police remind residents to limit movement in the flood water due to unseen hazards and recent crocodile sightings,” a spokesperson added.

Burketown sewage and water treatment plants in Burketown are now offline, with residents instructed to conserve water usage and continue to monitor advice from Burketown Shire Council.

Police are now closely monitoring the township Urandangi, with 16 people so far evacuated from Urandangi in preparation for rising flood waters.

Air assets are stationed nearby and on standby for emergency rescues and transport of food, water and medical supplies.

Senior Sergeant Adrian Rieck from the Mount Isa District Disaster Coordination Centre thanked all of the affected townships for their cooperation and ongoing assistance.

“Water reserves and food supplies are good, and resupply continues. Telstra Services have also been restored to the area,” Senior Sergeant Rieck said.

“If any residents are concerned, they are encouraged to contact their local police or council officers.”

“Your safety is of paramount importance and we thank you for working with emergency services while we continue to respond to the impacts of flooding in the region.”

Police in Burketown issued a remined to all residents that the flood water remains at an “unsafe level”.

“Please be cautious when moving about the community because although the rain has stopped, we do not know what damage has been caused to the road network and infrastructure still under water,” it added. “There could be concealed hazards and other dangers that cannot be seen, including crocodiles.”

“Please limit movement around the community for essential matters only and do not commute at night in boats and vessels – slow speeds must also be observed so as not to push floodwaters further into houses,” it added. “Due to the likelihood of bacteria being within the floodwaters, people should avoid walking in the water.”

the ranger in charge of the Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, Zachariah Sowden, said there had already been reported sightings of crocodiles swimming in flood waters.

“As the flood waters start to enter town from the surrounding river systems the local population of saltwater crocodiles will also move with these flood waters. A few crocodiles have already been sighted in different areas of the community.

“Please … stay out of the water where possible to limit a chance encounter with a crocodile.”

Burke Shire mayor Ernie Camp, who was evacuated on Saturday, said crocodiles, and potentially even bull sharks, which usually inhabit estuaries, would pose a risk to residents who chose to stay behind.

Bull Sharks are one of three species of sharks which are known to attack humans and are heavily concentrated in the seas and rivers along Queensland’s Gold Coast.

At present there are major flood warnings for the Albert River and the lower Flinders River, There are flood warning in place for the Nicholson, Gregory and Leichhardt Rivers, the Georgina River, the Paroo River, Norman River and for the Gilbert River.