Dam in Queensland, Australia bursts, four missing

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A bladder holding 10,000 megalitres of water at the Bedford Weir near Blackwater, Queensland has burst, sending flood waters rushing into the Fitzroy River towards the barrage near Rockhampton. It is believed up to four people who were in the vicinity of the dam before the breach may be missing.

An urgent flash flood warning was issued at 5:40 p.m. AEST (0740 UTC) following the breach. A wall of water was seen rushing downstream, leaving several people clinging to trees. The water was expected to travel quickly and cause flash flooding at river crossings and bridges along the river.

The mayor of the Central Highlands Regional Council, Peter McGuire, said the break was a "disaster". "There are reports of people missing," he said. "I've heard three and four [people are missing] but I don't know if that's right."

He added that the dam holds 22,900 megalitres of water and that a bladder on top of the dam's concrete wall had burst.

Emergency services are at the scene, searching the riverbanks. A Queensland Police spokeswoman said a rescue helicopter was only on the way to the area to "cover all bases", but claimed to know nothing of the missing people, although rescue teams were being organised at the scene.