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Floods turn Brisbane into ghost town; 20,000 homes could be swamped

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) - Emergency sirens have been sounding across Australia's third-largest city as floodwaters pour into an empty downtown.

The muddy waters have reached the tops of traffic lights in some parts of Brisbane, and the city's mayor says at least 20,000 homes are in danger of being inundated.

The floods have already proven deadly in Australia's northeastern state of Queensland. At least 22 people have died and more than 40 are missing since drenching rains began in November.

Brisbane is the state capital and has a population of 2 million. The Brisbane River runs through it and is expected to reach its highest point tomorrow.

Forecasters are now projecting it will crest about a foot lower than earlier thought. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh say while that's welcome news, it's little comfort. She says the floods "will cripple parts" of the city.


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