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Katherine NT flood emergency.

The Federal Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government, The Hon Alex Somlyay, MP, will delay his visit to the Indian Ocean Territories of the Cocos (Keeling) and Christmas Islands today and fly from Darwin to the flood ravaged Northern Territory town of Katherine.

A state of emergency was declared in Katherine at 7am (this morning). The Minister will be accompanied by the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Shane Stone, MLA, and his federal colleagues Senator Grant Tambling and the Member for the Northern Territory, Nick Dondas. An RAAF aircraft flight will land at the nearby Tindal base.

The Minister's flight will also carry senior officers of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC), Finance and the Federal Department of Territories and air traffic controller staff needed in the area to coordinate relief floods.

"Shane Stone and I will be gauging the immediate needs of the residents and tourists stranded as the Katherine River rises to an historic peak of 20 metres following torrential rain associated with tropical cyclone Les.

"Overnight over 1000 evacuations to higher ground have been carried out in Katherine. The Stewart and Victoria highways are impassable. I am advised that roads, power, water and sewerage have been severely damage," said Mr Somlyay.

He said that on his arrival to the area this morning he would be briefed by army, police and state emergency people on the immediate needs of the people in Katherine.

The Minister pledged that the Commonwealth would work with the Northern Territory government to ensure immediate manpower needs and financial assistance is made available to deal with this flood emergency.

"Later today, I will be in a position to give a clearer picture of the Commonwealth's response to this emergency," said Mr Somlyay.


Graeme Hallett, Minister's Media Adviser, 0419 218 469