Relief Flights Help Flood-Affected Australian City

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Australia's worst flooding in a decade has taken a heavy toll on residents in the northeastern party of the country.

Ten people have died as a result of rains that started before Christmas and have drenched an area the size of France and Germany combined. Rivers are overflowing and at least 22 towns and cities in the farming region have been inundated.

Military flights have been rushing supplies to the coastal city of Rockhampton before floodwaters cut it off.

Acting Defense Minister Warren Snowdon said a C-130 military cargo plane would fly to a town north of Rockhampton on Monday carrying food, medical supplies and other items that would then be trucked to the stricken city.

By Monday night, floodwaters had inundated the last route into the city, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said.

"Rockhampton is now completely stranded - a town of 75,000 people - no airport, rail or road," Bligh told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

State authorities say about 200,000 people have been affected by the floods, Australia's worst in a decade, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Monday extended emergency relief to those affected, including low-interest loans to farmers to begin cleaning up and get their businesses running again.

"This is a major natural disaster, and recovery will take a significant amount of time," Gillard said. The damage could ultimately amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, she told reporters.

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