Australia flood: Six found safe after record rainfall

Waterfalls from Uluru after heavy rain Image copyright Parks Australia
Image caption The heavy rain meant waterfalls coming all over Uluru, also known as Ayer's Rock

Six missing people have been found safe after record rainfall caused floods in Australia's outback.

Northern Territory police had been "seriously concerned" for the group amid what meteorologists called a twice-a-century weather event.

Four of the six were rescued by helicopter on Tuesday, while the remaining two were found on Wednesday.

The Christmas storm drenched the usually dry region, causing flash floods and turning the soil into mud.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said the conditions were extremely rare, creating waterfalls all over Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, a site sacred to indigenous people at the heart of a famous Northern Territory national park.

The six were travelling in two cars when they became stranded on the way from the remote community of Kiwirrkurra, Western Australia, to Kintore, in the Northern Territory.

The pair rescued on Wednesday - a man, 30, and a woman, 27 - were trying to walk 28km (17 miles) from their car to Kintore, police said.

Both were receiving medical treatment while the four others were safe and well. Police said earlier reports an infant was among the group were incorrect.

"Many roads in the area remain impassable and police urge people to obey all signage regarding closed roads and to exercise extreme caution. If possible, please delay any travel in areas affected by floods," police said in a statement on Wednesday.

The conditions of the roads meant police were forced to use helicopters to search the area, which has no mobile phone signal.

Homes flooded

Flash floods in Kintore - where more than 232mm (9in) of rain fell on Monday, more than double the record December rainfall - also forced the evacuation of dozens of residents.

Northern Territory police told Australia's ABC Network that up to 25 houses were flooded in the town, near the border with Western Australia.

Papunya, another town 250km from Alice Springs, was completely cut off, while the town square of Yulara - the nearest community to Uluru - was inundated.

Meanwhile, a car carrying two tourists near Alice Springs was washed off a road into a flooded creek. Police, who initially believed three people were in the vehicle, said both were safe.

Rangers closed the Uluru-Kata Tjuta national park at 09:00 local time on Boxing Day (23:30 GMT on Christmas Day), citing the risk of flooded roads and potential car accidents.

Parks Australia said on Tuesday that they had reopened the park but urged people to drive carefully as there was still surface water on the roads.

Uluru is a large sandstone rock in the outback sacred to the indigenous Anangu people, and one of Australia's top tourist attractions.

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