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Still Waters

Locust plague hits eastern Australia causing

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Swarms of locusts have infested a huge area of eastern Australia roughly the size of Spain after recent floods, ravaging farmland.

Chris Adriaansen, head of the Australian Plague Locust Commission, said the quick-breeding creatures had hit from Longreach in Queensland in the north-east to Melbourne and Adelaide - 190,000 square miles.

"What we've got certainly is a very large and widespread infestation," he told AFP. "It's simply a reflection of the fact that we've had widespread rain across that entire area.

Mr Adriaansen said some swarms covered areas as large as 115 square miles, with about 10 locusts per square yard, "that's a lot of locusts."

Local media said the insects had already wiped out thousands of acres of crops and were also damaging grazing areas and gardens in the key agricultural area.

"One farmer has about 400 hectares (1,000 acres) which will have to be resown," Graham Falconer, an agronomist in the town of Forbes, told public broadcaster ABC. "The locusts are doing considerable damage."

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