January 12, 2011 / 7:55 PM / 9 years ago

WRAPUP 1-Brisbane flooding peaking below worst feared level

BRISBANE, Australia, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Deadly floods in Australia’s third-biggest city were peaking on Thursday below the worst levels Brisbane had feared, police said, although swollen rivers will still cause fresh destruction.

The floods have so far killed at least 17 people, left 43 missing and caused billions of dollars of damage in the state of Queensland. One central bank economist has warned that it could cut the GDP measure of national income by as much as 1 percent.

“The Brisbane river has now reached its peak,” police said in a statement, as an official weather bureau flood gauge in the centre of the city of two million showed a depth 4.45 metres.

That was below earlier expected highs of above 5 metres and less than a peak in 1974 which caused massive damage.

The swollen river was moving rapidly and filled with debris, after bursting its banks and engulfing large districts of the city a day earlier. Power has been cut in 150,000 homes due to concerns that the waters could cause electrocutions.

State premier Anna Bligh had warned late on Wednesday that many more homes would suffer: “We are now seeing thousands of homes inundated with water up to the roof, many more expected to see significant water damage,” she told a news conference.

Authorities were also struggling to secure or break up three large objects or vessels on the Brisbane river, she said.

A rescue helicopter is due to fly in a 1.5 tonne anchor at first light to secure a ferry that had broken its guide lines and was seen as a potential hazard. (Reporting by Ed Davies, editing by Rob Taylor and Alastair Macdonald)

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