Harrowing horse images as flooded Queensland reels - videos

January 13, 2011

By Neil Clarkson

» Latest Flood News      

Harrowing pictures of horses fighting for their lives in flood-torn Queensland emerged yesterday, but the extent of animal losses will not be known until floodwaters, which peaked in Brisbane today, subside.

Warregold Cindy is led to safety. The horse was led more than 1km to dry land by the Chinchilla SES Boat Crew.

Horses attempt to get to safety on the rooves of houses.

Queensland RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty hoped that horse losses around the broader Brisbane area would not be significant, as owners had received plenty of warnings about the steadily rising floodwaters.

However, the same could not be said of the Lockyer Valley, where he expected livestock losses would be severe as a result of the dramatic flash flood.

Queensland is still reeling from a flood event which has left vast swathes of the state under water.

The Brisbane River reached its peak around 5am local time at about 4.65 metres, nearly a metre below levels reached in the devastating flood of 1974.

However, floodwaters have surged through at least a dozen suburbs and badly damaged tens of thousands of homes.

Around 115,000 people across the state are without power today, including 60,000 customers in Brisbane's central business district.

Beatty said he, like thousands of others, had watching footage on the news of horses trying to get on to the rooves of houses.

"I can only presume they would have lost their lives eventually," he said.

"Clearly," he said, "there have been some horses that have been swept away."

He hoped that losses in the wider Brisbane area would not be major because livestock owners had received plenty of warnings to move their animals to higher ground.

"It wasn't as though there wasn't any warning. It has been a gradual situation," he said, noting that there had been three days of warnings about the rising floodwaters around Brisbane.

"We just have to hope that horse owners listened to the news and took their animals to higher ground."

He said he received good news last night, with word that 40 horses in a flood-affected paddock at Hemmant, in the greater Brisbane area, had been led to safety.

A group of racehorses head for safety in the below video.

RSPCA inspectors had, frustratingly, been unable to reach the scene because of floodwaters, but locals managed to reach the animals from another direction and help them to safety.

The RSPCA was forced to evacuate its Brisbane shelter yesterday because of rising floodwaters, moving 300 small animals to safety.

He said several horses housed in the shelter's back paddock had been moved out several days earlier.

The animal toll would be very different in the Lockyer Valley region, he said.

"We know it is bad. We do not know how many livestock have perished there."

He said inspectors had reached some areas, and hoped to get a better look today.

Harrowing images screened internationally yesterday showing one horse desperately swimming for dry land, while two sodden horses stood partly submerged with a cattlebeast on what appeared to be the veranda of a home.

People on a boat were trying to assist a swimming cattle beast.

The Australian Stock Society posted an image on its Facebook page of the Chinchilla State Emergency Services boat crew helping save horses at the Warregold Stock Horse Stud.

It said 95 per cent of the property went under water.

A horse named Warregold Cindy was stranded on a dry knob, seen in the background of the image, and was pictured being swum over a kilometre to safety.

Swimming horses to safety poses risks.

Horses can swim, but tire easily, and they have difficulty keeping their heavy heads above water.

Rescuers forced to tow horses behind boats are advised to tie some sort of float under the halter to keep the horses' nostrils above the surface, and, wherever possible, to use a rowboat in preference to a vessel with a propeller.

The death toll from the flood currently stands at 12 people, with around 50 still missing.

State Premier Anna Bligh has called the flooding "the worst natural disaster in our history".