Prince William meets Australia flood victims

Prince William
Image caption Prince William is due to attend a fundraising event in Brisbane for victims of the floods

Prince William is said to have been "incredibly moved" while meeting people affected by the devastating floods in the Australian state of Queensland.

He met a man whose wife and two children were swept to their death in the town of Toowoomba.

The prince also visited the towns of Ipswich and Grantham in the south-east of Queensland which were flooded at the end of last year.

Around 30,000 homes and businesses were destroyed and 35 people died.

The prince will also travel to southern Australia to see flood-hit areas in Victoria.

Prince William was reported by an aide to be "incredibly moved" by the stories he has heard while on the trip to the state, where he is representing the Queen.

In the town of Grantham - which was flooded on two occasions - he met resident Ian Pinkerton who told the prince how he watched helplessly while his neighbours were swept away.

He described how a "wall of water" submerged his house.

"There were six of us on the roof - four adults, two kids and two dogs. We were up there for about five hours."

People turned out in torrential rain to meet the prince, who was treated to a short performance of "Waltzing Matilda" by children from a local school.

Then he moved on to Toowoomba where the prince met grieving families at a country music event aimed at lifting people's spirits.

He met 22-year-old John Warhurst who lost his father and his family home when a wave of flood water hit the small town of Murphy's Creek.

"Dad was the only one at home on the day and he got washed away inside the house.

"We didn't find his body for five weeks."


Mr Warhurst, who is now living in government housing, said it was great to see Prince William come and talk face-to-face with them.

"His heart obviously went out to us but there's not a lot he can do."

Mayor of Ipswich Paul Pisasale told reporters: "He's been putting smiles on people's faces, he's really been reaching out to people."

The prince later took part in a reception in Brisbane, where he praised those involved in rescuing people from the flood waters.

He said that as a search and rescue pilot himself, he was "full of admiration" for those "whose efforts saved so many".

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was asked on Australia's Sky News if the country would be a republic by the time Prince William became King.

"It's not a debate at the forefront of our national conversations at the moment, but I believe it will return," she said.

"But I'm not going to make any date predictions on either the ascension to the throne of Prince William or the date of this nation becoming a republic," the prime minister added.

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