Deadly cyclone hits North-East Australia
A deadly cyclone has hit the north-east Australian coast, causing substantial damage, torrential rain and power cuts to tens of thousands of homes.
It is moving inland within the suburbs as a category three but could cause damage for hours yet. One serious injury has been reported.
PM Malcolm Turnbull informed the parliament he had activated a disaster response team.
The measure of Cyclone Debbie’s devastation, which has a 50km-diameter eye wall, may not be ascertained at the moment, authorities said.
Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said the storm’s slow speed had created a “bullish effect”, adding: “We are going to get lots of reports of damage, and sadly I think we will also receive reports of injuries, if not death.”, reports Sun online.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said to ascertain the extent of the damage may be difficult because communities had been cut off from power supply and phone reception signals.
One man had been seriously injured in a wall collapse triggered by the storm in Proserpine, Mr Stewart said.
Caravan park owner Roz Willcocks said her property near Bowen had been “trashed”.
“There’s at least 50 trees down. The neighbors roof blown off. We’ve got sheds down,” she told the BBC.
Electricity providers said it was not known when power would be restored to houses.
Authorities warned people to stay indoors until it was safe to go outside.
Sit and wait is all that’s left to do. Now that Debbie has finally hit land, it’s too late to leave towns like Ayr, which lie in its path. Even the local fire-fighters are on lockdown, under strict orders not to respond to any emergency yet until wind gush fall back down below 80km/h.
That could take several hours, so they are doing the same as everyone else – following the footage on TV and checking the latest forecasts online.
Only the town pub is open, where a mix of locals and loggers are necking a few pints and playing pool. For the locals, it’s a way to take their minds off the damage being done to their homes.
For the loggers, it’s some respite before the busy month ahead, which they expect to spend helping to put power lines back in place.
“We’re going to see the impact of Cyclone Debbie for the next three to five days as it travels down the coast,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
More than 25,000 people were urged to leave their homes ahead of predictions the cyclone would be Queensland’s most damaging since 2011.
One person in the Whitsunday Islands compared the winds to “freight trains coming through left and right”.
“The trees are going wild. The place is just shaking continuously,” the man, identified only as Charlie, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp., reports the