| BRISBANE, Australia, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Heavy rain fell in Australia's flooded Queensland stateThursday and officials said it could take a year for ravaged towns to recover.
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Once again, more rain was forecast.
Water levels in the worst flooding in a half century were expected to stay high in many areas for at least one more week, with forecasters predicting flash floods in communities this weekend where hundreds of homes are already underwater.
At least 10 people have died in weather-related incidents since the flooding began, authorities said.
Evacuated residents were warned to stay away from their homes.
Those refusing to evacuate their homes in Rockhampton, a coastal tourism city of 75,000 on the Fitzroy River that usually has more than 300 days of sunshine a year, will no longer receive food drops because of the strain supplying the groceries puts on emergency services, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. quoted city Mayor Brad Carter as saying Thursday.
Rockhampton has some 500 homes submerged.
Throughout Queensland, more than 1,200 homes in an area roughly the size of Germany and France combined are underwater, with another 10,700 damaged.
The heavy rains began shortly before Christmas and more than 200,000 people are affected by the floods, officials said.
Flooding is a seasonal norm in Queensland, but this year's deluges have been much broader and more severe than normal.
The economic cost so far is estimated at $2.49 billion, with lost coal mining revenue the biggest hit and tourism an additional drag, economists cited by The Wall Street Journal said.
Queensland, in northeastern Australia, is the country's largest coal exporter and accounts for about 20 percent of the country's $1.3 trillion economy..
Premier Anna Bligh said the economic losses combined with the price of rebuilding homes, businesses and roads, water supplies, sewer systems, power grids, telecommunications and other infrastructure could top $5 billion. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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