Towns cut off in eastern Australia flooding

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Media captionAerial footage shows the extent of the flooding

Severe flooding is threatening parts of New South Wales and Queensland in eastern Australia, with towns cut off and thousands of residents evacuated.

More than 10,000 people in communities affected by the floods have been left stranded, authorities said on Friday.

A military helicopter was sent to the northern New South Wales town of Moree with bedding and supplies.

"From the air it looks like an inland sea," said New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell.

Moree is reportedly facing its worst flooding in more than 35 years, with more than 2,000 people ordered to evacuate homes and buildings.

Water levels at the Mehi River there had peaked and flooding was expected to continue for several days, emergency officials said.

"As you fly over the centre of the town there are streets that look like canals that have more relevance to Venice than north-western New South Wales," said Mr O'Farrell.

In the town of Mitchell in Queensland, about 200 people have reportedly been forced to evacuate after floodwater inundated their homes.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the hospital had also been evacuated and five schools were closed, following fears that the Maranoa river could reach a record 10-metre height.

The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia also issued a severe weather warning for parts of Queensland on Friday.

Massive flooding in Queensland last year killed 35 people, damaged crops and infrastructure, and hit coal production hard, driving up prices.

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