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Australian leader tours floods where 2 men reported missing

In this Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, photo, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services crew members use an inflatable boat to pull residents through floodwaters at Hermit Park in Townsville, Australia. Emergency workers are using boats and helicopters to rescue people from flooded parts of northern Australia where forecasts call for more heavy rainfall. More than 1,100 people had been rescued from their homes on Sunday night and evacuation efforts were continuing Monday. (Andrew Rankin/AAP Image)

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Two bodies were reportedly found near a drain in the flood-stricken city of Townsville on Tuesday as Australia’s prime minister toured the devastation wrought by unprecedented rainfall

Police would not immediately confirm media reports that the bodies had been recovered a day after two men disappeared near flood waters in the Townsville suburb of Aitkenvale.

Authorities have warned Townsville residents not to swim in flood waters, in which crocodiles and snakes have been spotted among the Townsville suburbs.

While floodwater receded in Townsville on Tuesday, overnight monsoonal rain created flash-flooding in communities to the north where authorities have warned residents to move to higher ground.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited a new housing estate where scores of homes had been inundated and one of the evacuation centers where more than 1,000 people are sheltering.

“It was frankly quite overwhelming,” Morrison said of his tour. “I think people are in shock. I think the kids are amazingly resilient.”

Morrison declined to say whether the torrential rain, which has been described as a one-in-100-year event, was a demonstration of climate change.

“My thinking is the support for Townsville people. I’m not engaging in broader policy debates today,” Morrison said.

Authorities were grateful that the overnight rain missed the swollen catchment of the city’s Ross River Dam, which had to release an unprecedented amount of water this week.

An estimated 500 homes and business in the city of 230,000 people were flooded. That estimate is expected to rise as the cleanup continues.

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