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DISASTERS

Thousands of Australian homes flooded by torrential rain, leaving 4 people dead

  • People use umbrellas to fend off the rain as they walk through a park in Sydney, Australia, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. Torrential rain over the weekend flooded several towns in eastern Australia, and three deaths were reported. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)The Associated Press

  • In this image made with a slow shutter speed, a man uses an umbrella to fend off the rain as he walks on a street in Sydney, Australia, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. Torrential rain over the weekend flooded several towns in eastern Australia, and three deaths were reported. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)The Associated Press

  • A man use an umbrella to fend off the rain as he walks through a park in Sydney, Australia, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. Torrential rain over the weekend flooded several towns in eastern Australia, and three deaths were reported. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)The Associated Press

Torrential rains have left thousands of homes flooded in eastern Australia, with more rain and high winds expected in Queensland and New South Wales.

The disaster has claimed four lives, including a 3-year-old boy who was hit by a falling tree in the Queensland state capital, Brisbane, the Australian Associated Press said Monday.

It said officials were preparing for another day of evacuations along the eastern coast, where hundreds of homes have been cut off by floodwaters.

State Emergency Services Deputy Commissioner Steve Pearce told the AAP that some areas in northern New South Wales had been hit by more than half a meter (about 20 inches) of rain, with more than 2,000 people isolated by floodwaters.

"We're expecting flash flooding, we're expecting trees to be brought down, wires to be brought down by these winds," Pearce said. "We're expecting a very challenging 24 hours in front of us."

Floodwaters have also cut off all roads between New South Wales and Queensland.

More than 2,000 homes are underwater in the worst-affected city of Bundaberg 385 kilometers (240 miles) to the north of Brisbane. The same area was hit by serious flooding two years ago, leaving 35 dead.

AAP said military helicopters with pilots using night vision equipment were being used to evacuate stranded residents.