Western Australia in grip of ‘devastating’ flood emergency, Australia PM says

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SYDNEY, Jan 7 (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday his government was ready to provide whatever support was needed to residents of Western Australia state as record-breaking floods isolated far-flung communities there.

The crisis in the Kimberley – an area almost three times the size of the United Kingdom – was sparked this week by severe weather system Ellie, a former tropical cyclone that brought heavy rain to the vast region.

Among the worst-hit locations was Fitzroy Crossing, a town of around 1,300 people where supplies were being airlifted in due to the flooding, which authorities have said is the state’s worst on record.

Albanese said his Labor government was “working constructively” with the Western Australia government on the crisis in the sparsely populated region that also includes the resort town of Broome.

“These floods are having a devastating impact, many of these communities … are communities that do it tough, and the resources simply aren’t there on the ground,” Albanese told reporters in the city of Geelong, in Victoria state. 

“My government stands ready to provide whatever support is requested.”

Western Australia emergency authorities said Australian Defence Force aircraft were being used to assist flood-hit communities, and Chinook helicopters were en-route to help relocated impacted residents.

The nation’s weather forecaster said severe weather was no longer occurring in the state but that “the situation will continue to be monitored and further warnings will be issued if necessary”.

The emergency in the country’s far northwest comes after frequent flooding in Australia’s east over the last two years due to a multi-year La Nina weather event, typically associated with increased rainfall. Some regions have endured four major flood crises since last year.

(Reporting by Sam McKeith in Sydney; Editing by William Mallard)

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