The Prince of Wales has expressed sympathy with Australians whose lives have been “devastated” by recent floods and praised the “selfless” efforts of rescue workers.
Charles said he was “deeply shocked” by the natural disaster which has affected rural areas and cities like Brisbane and Sydney, claiming more than 20 lives and prompting Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison to announce he will declare a national emergency.
In a message to the Commonwealth nation, the prince said: “It is with the greatest sadness that once again my wife and I express our distress, as well as immense concern and sympathy, following the tragic deaths and devastation caused by widespread flooding in Queensland and New South Wales.
Charles went on to say: “From the other side of the world we witnessed the valiant efforts of volunteers in small boats rescuing trapped neighbours and strangers alike.
“We saw interviews with people who, having rebuilt their homes and lives following previous floods, know they must go through the painful process of rebuilding again.”
He also said he had “…admiration for the selfless role played by all those involved in the rescue and recovery efforts, including those now delivering food, water and fuel to people and communities isolated by these floods”.
Extraordinarily heavy rains have created the current emergency in New South Wales and Queensland states, where some of the flooded communities were battling fires two years ago.
Floodwaters peaked in Brisbane, the capital of Queensland and Australia’s third-most populous city, on February 28 after it was inundated by 80% of its usual annual rainfall in three days.
More than 20,000 homes and businesses were flooded in south-east Queensland and Sydney, the capital of New South Wales and Australia’s biggest city with a population of five million, has endured the wettest start to a year ever recorded.
Parts of the city 450 miles south of Brisbane were flooded after receiving almost 75% of its average annual rainfall since January 1.
The worst-hit communities were in the Lismore, Clarence Valley and Richmond Valley local government areas of northern New South Wales.
Some communities endured the highest floods ever recorded in their locations.