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UPDATE 1-Australia PM to tour flood-hit Victoria state; evacuations, sandbagging underway

(Adds emergency services official comments)

SYDNEY, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Sunday he would tour flood-hit parts of Victoria state, including the city of Melbourne, as three states continued to grapple with a flood crisis sparked by days of heavy rain.

Warnings were current for flood-impacted parts of Victoria, southern New South Wales and northern regions of Tasmania after a weather system earlier this week dumped more than a month's worth of rain on the southeast.

The crisis comes after Australia's eastern states were hit by severe flooding in early 2022 as the country endures a third consecutive La Nina weather event, bringing heavy rains.

"This is a very severe weather event that's having an impact in urban communities but also in regional communities right throughout Victoria," Albanese told ABC radio on Sunday morning.

"There are now 60 Australian Defence Force personnel on the ground, assisting with evacuations, assisting with sandbagging, doing their bit as our Defence Forces always do."

In Victoria, where flooding was worst, the focus was on the north, especially the city of Shepparton, where thousands of residents were told it was too late to evacuate as waters rose.

Victorian authorities reported the emergency's first flood fatality on Saturday after a man's body was found in floodwaters at Rochester, about 200 kms (124 miles) north of Melbourne.

In Melbourne, a flood clean-up was under way after the Maribyrnong River burst its banks on Friday, inundating suburbs close to the central business district.

A controversial floodwall saved Melbourne's iconic Flemington racecourse from being inundated, but has been blamed by some for worsening flooding in nearby residential areas.

Victoria State Emergency Service chief operations officer Tim Wiebusch said the state was now experiencing "blue sky flooding", with heavy rains having passed.

Across the border, in New South Wales, 71 warnings were in place on Sunday, with authorities particularly concerned about flooding in the inland towns of Forbes, Narrandra and Moama.

In Tasmania, 22 flood warnings were current, with most located near Launceston, the state's second biggest city. (Reporting by Sam McKeith; Editing by Sandra Maler and Michael Perry)

© Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022. Click For Restrictions -

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