he video: The state of Queensland, in Northeastern Australia, is battling some of the most severe floods Australia has ever seen. Constant torrential downpours since late December have caused three river basins to overflow, consuming small towns, killing at least 40 people, and causing the evacuation of 200,000 more. Horrified onlookers around Queensland have been documenting the damage with cellphone and video cameras; in one particularly dramatic scene (video below), bystanders watch as an out-of-control torrent of water washes away an entire parking lot full of cars in the city of Toowoomba. On Wednesday, waters raced through Brisbane, Australia's third-largest city, though they did not reach the levels some had feared. For many in smaller towns, though, the damage had already been done.
The reaction: There is a reason that Queensland's premier calls this "the worst natural disaster in the state's history," says The Economist; "at one stage, an area the size of France and Germany combined was under water." Australia's prime minister, Julia Gillard, sounded a note of solidarity, saying the entire nation is "standing with" the people of Queensland. "We've all been shocked by the images of that wall of water just wreaking such devastation in Toowoomba," she said, as quoted by The Canberra Times. "The dimensions of it are truly mind-boggling." Watch the incredible flood footage:
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