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Australian floods kill man, displace 10,000

TORRENTIAL rains and strong winds left one man dead and forced thousands to flee their homes on Australia's eastern coast, officials said today.

New South Wales state police said the body of a 70-year-old man was found yesterday near where floodwaters had submerged his car in Coffs Harbour in the northern part of the state - the second fatality from the severe weather. Another man died in Queensland state on Wednesday when a sheet of metal blew off a building and crashed through his office window.

Officials have declared parts of coastal Queensland and New South Wales disaster zones. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he would visit the affected region next week.

Authorities today closed all beaches on a 700-kilometer stretch of coast between Sydney and the Queensland coast. Winds of up to 90 kilometers per hour churned swells of up to six meters.

The New South Wales State Emergency Service ordered the evacuation of more than 10,000 people as river waters continued to rise today. Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan said his agency had conducted more than 100 rescues since the storms hit Wednesday.

The Bureau of Meteorology said conditions should begin to ease later today though there continued to be a risk of flash floods.


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