Several Australian towns flooded, 3 people killed

Torrential rain over the weekend from ex-cyclone Oswald flooded several towns in eastern Australia, and three deaths were reported Monday.

Hundreds of properties flooded by record-high waters

The storm washed this boat on to rocks at Airlie Beach, 120 kilometres southeast of the city of Townsville in Queensland. (Bon Fenney/Reuters)

Torrential rain over the weekend from ex-cyclone Oswald flooded several towns in eastern Australia, and three deaths were reported Monday.

Downtown businesses in the Queensland state capital Brisbane were inundated, while 1,200 properties were flooded by record-high waters in the city of Bundaberg 385 kilometers to the north.

Helicopters were used to rescue 18 people from the roofs of homes in Bundaberg, Australian Associated Press reported. The town's population is 98,000.

Queensland police on Monday confirmed that three people had died in flood waters since the weekend.

Rescuers freed a man trapped in a drain in Hervey Bay on Saturday night, and three men had to be led to safety after their car became submerged in Bundaberg.

Flooding and torrential rain swamped towns across the Hervey Bay and Wide Bay areas, and at least six tornadoes had hit the region by Sunday morning.

The towns of Bargara and Burnett Heads were declared disaster areas after the tornadoes hit, and the Bureau of Meteorology warned there was a "strong possibility" of further tornado activity, local media reported.

"We've had a terrible night because we didn't know what was going to happen next, and it has rained all night, blowing and heavy rain," one Bargara resident told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Across the region tens of thousands of people are without power, and electricity companies said it could take up to two days to restore services to the affected areas.

As the weather system moves south, hundreds of homes are at risk of flooding in Ipswich, Gladstone and Gympie, local media reported.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued severe weather warnings for a 500-kilometre stretch of Australia's east coast from central Queensland to the New South Wales border.