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Rain eases, flood threat high in Australia

March 1, 2012 at 3:48 PM

SYDNEY, March 1 (UPI) -- Heavy rain eased overnight in parts of Australia threatened by flooding but swollen rivers still lapped at their banks, officials said.

More than 1,600 people in New South Wales, including the entire towns of Cooma, Goulburn and Bega, have been forced to evacuate their homes, with a possible 8 inches more rain forecast for the weekend, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Thursday. About 360 people were left isolated when floodwaters covered the Princess Highway at Towamba, near Bega.

Officials said about three-quarters of New South Wales, an area nearly as large as Texas, remains under threat of flooding.

"It might be quiet at the moment, but I think we're going to see some rain coming back on later," said a forecaster at the Australian Bureau of Meterology.

Rain was also predicted in northwestern Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory through Saturday, Accuweather.com said.

Residents in Sydney were watching rising water behind the Warragamba Dam and floodwaters threatened to top a dam under construction near Canberra.

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