Times 2

Australian PM pledges financial help for flood-hit Queensland

SYDNEY, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Julia Gillard pledged financial support for Australia's flood-hit northeast on Saturday during a tour of the most heavily inundated parts of Queensland state amid forecasts of more rain.

Run-off from a Christmas deluge that left an area the size of France and Germany combined under water is still swelling some rivers, while in other flooded areas water levels are subsiding more slowly than predicted.

The floods have swamped coal mines and hit agriculture hard, washed away roads and railways, and brought the country's $50 billion coal export industry to a near standstill.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday in the flooded town of St George, 450 km (270 miles) west of the state capital Brisbane, Gillard said A$4 million ($4 million) in emergency payments had already been paid and more was on the way to help “families who are doing it tough”.

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