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More severe weather forecast for Australia's southeast amid flood crisis

SYDNEY, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Australia's weather forecaster predicted heavy rain for large swaths of country's flood-hit south and east on Sunday as a flood crisis continues in the two most populous states.

The week-long emergency in New South Wales and Victoria comes as Australia endures a third straight La Nina weather event, bringing heavy rains.

Flooding has killed five people, prompted thousands of requests for assistance and led to hundreds of people being rescued from rising waters.

The Bureau of Meteorology on Sunday issued a severe weather warning for a 320 km (200 mile) stretch of the north coast of New South Wales, including the regional centre Lismore.

Lismore was among the localities worst hit by devastating floods that hit Australia's east in March, killing at least 13 and forcing tens of thousands to be evacuated.

The forecaster predicted rainfall for the region, which also includes Byron Bay, to total as much as 300 mm (1 foot) over the next 24 hours.

"Locally intense rainfall which may lead to dangerous and life-threatening flash flooding is also possible during this period," the agency said on its website.

There were 122 flood warnings in place for New South Wales, Australia's most populous state. Inundations were forecast to be worst in the northeast near Moree, and on the southern border around the town of Moama, some 780 km (480 miles) from Sydney.

Footage supplied by emergency services showed large parts of Moree, a town of around 7,500 people, submerged and people being dragged to safety from flooded rivers in other parts of the state.

Across the border, Victoria had 67 flood warnings, with parts of Kerang and nearby Echuca - a town of 15,000 on Australia's longest river, the Murray - urged to evacuate.

The river had risen to around 94.80 metres (311 feet) on Sunday, similar to devastating 1993 flood levels, and was expected to reach a peak of around 95 metres later in the day.

Around 750 people have been rescued across the state in the last 10 days, the Victoria State Emergency Service said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday 150 Australian Defence Force personnel were assisting in New South Wales and 350 troops in Victoria.

Last weekend, Albanese toured flood-hit parts of Victoria with state Premier Daniel Andrews after suburbs near the central business district of the state capital, Melbourne, were flooded.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said on Friday the widespread floods would dent Australia's economic growth and increase inflation. (Reporting by Sam McKeith; Editing by William Mallard)

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