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NT residents evacuated as cyclone triggers flooding

Neve Brissenden -

Residents in the remote Northern Territory town of Borroloola have been evacuated after ex-Tropical Cyclone Megan swept through the community, leaving homes inundated.

More than 100 people were evacuated from Borroloola to Darwin on Wednesday evening, with three more planes expected to take off on Thursday.

Heavy rains brought on by ex-Tropical Cyclone Megan earlier in the week showed the McArthur River was likely to reach 18 metres - 3m above the river's record peak in 2001.

The river rise has inundated homes, with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) called in to help with evacuations on Wednesday.

Incident controller Matt Hollamby said the evacuations were logistically complex.

"People that are being evacuated need to travel by boat across the river to get to the airport ... that is slowing down our progress but it's necessary to keep everyone safe," Mr Hollamby said on Thursday.

Borroloola is the only community being evacuated in the NT, but the ADF is on standby to evacuate other flood-hit communities such as Timber Creek, Pigeon Hole and Kalkarindji.

Federal Emergency Services Minister Murray Watt told reporters on Thursday the government had approved the request and evacuations were due to start in the other communities.

Mr Hollamby said Senator Watt was mistaken, and no evacuations were planned for anywhere outside Borroloola.

Borroloola residents squeeze into a plane to evacuate from Borroloola to avoid flooding. (HANDOUT/AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE)

Authorities were also set to drop four tonnes of food to Borroloola residents who chose to stay or were not being evacuated.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Shenagh Gamble said ex-Tropical Cyclone Megan had brought heavy rainfall to the Macarthur River region.

"Without the river gauges readings in Borroloola we aren't clear as to the impact it'll have on river height," she said.

The river is set to peak between 3pm and 6pm on Thursday.

"The persisting feature that we will see as a result of this system is a rain band that will essentially extend from Lajamanu down toward Alice Springs," she said.

Ms Gamble said central and southern parts of the NT could face up to 50mm of rain a day until Monday.

There is a severe weather warning in place from Tennant Creek to the West Australian border, where ex-Tropical Cyclone Megan is set to dissipate after the weekend.

Neve Brissenden - AAP


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