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Major evacuation effort as river flood fears rise

Maeve Bannister -

Residents in a remote Northern Territory fishing community will be evacuated over fears a major river will flood. 

Emergency crews announced a partial evacuation had been ordered for Borroloola after modelling showed the McArthur River was now forecast to hit a peak of up to nearly three metres higher than first thought.

Territory Controller commissioner Michael Murphy said the latest forecast showed Yanyula, Garrawa and parts of Borroloola were now likely to be inundated by flood waters. 

"At this level, several homes and homeland communities will be inundated, but the Borroloola town centre, including the shop and school, will remain above water level," Mr Murphy said. 

"A one in 100 year flood is really serious and we're taking it incredibly seriously and we're doing everything we can to make sure the residents of Borroloola are safe." 

Multiple RAAF planes are on their way to Borroloola with four tonnes of food and water. 

The planes will bring 130 people to Darwin, where they will be accommodated at Foskeys Pavilion and Marrara Stadium. 

"Those 130 will be identified by local authorities and health staff on the ground, based on their medical and care needs and on the likelihood of their homes being damaged by floodwaters for an extended period," Mr Murphy said. 

Evacuation flights are set to depart every 40 minutes until dark and will carry up to 70 people. 

If flights are unable to land safely in Borroloola, residents have been asked to move to higher ground in the town centre. 

"The town centre itself will remain dry, we are working on a plan for a higher than forecast peak and the community will have access to food and shelter until the crisis is passed," Mr Murphy said. 

Maeve Bannister - AAP

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