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Cyclone Yasi flattens northern Australia

Last updated on: February 3, 2011 18:16 IST

Cyclone Yasi flattens northern Australia

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The most powerful cyclone to hit Australia in generations has affected over 170,000 people in flood-ravaged northern Queensland province, uprooting trees, tearing off roofs and cutting electricity.

Cyclone Yasi is the worst cyclone to have hit the country since 1918.

Over 170,000 residents in the affected region were without power and for many it would take a month to get back electricity, according to latest media reports. Ergon Energy spokesman John Stock said that early reports indicated the damage was worse than experienced during Cyclone Larry in 2006.

There have been hundreds of reports of fallen power poles and damaged power lines. Witnesses reported roofs being ripped off, buildings shaking and trees flattened under the power of the winds. No deaths or serious injuries have been reported.


Image: A house lies in ruins after Cyclone Yasi passed the northern Australian town of Tully
Photographs: Tim Wimborne/Reuters
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Tully severely affected

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Amid the chaos and devastation of cyclone Yasi, a baby girl was also born at one of the Cairns evacuation centres at 6:09 am (local time). The damage was severe across Tully, Mission Beach and Cardwell.

Early reports suggest the communities of Mission Beach, where the category 5 cyclone made landfall about midnight, nearby Tully and Innisfail, 50 km north of ground zero, were the worst hit.

Cyclone Yasi brought 340 mm of rain in some areas, with the stretch between Ingham and Mission Beach getting 200-230 mm. Queenslanders are now assessing how destructive Yasi was after a terrifying night.


Image: Houses with no roofs stand next to their undamaged neighbours after Cyclone Yasi
Photographs: Tim Wimborne/Reuters
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No report of casualties

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"It's a great relief this morning to be able to say at this time we have no report of casualties, serious injuries or any fatalities," Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said.

She said the picture in the region would become clearer as reports come from smaller and isolated communities.

Meanwhile, immediate threat to coastal communities from a second storm surge still loomed but was reduced on Thursday morning. Residents were now being allowed to return to some affected areas.


Image: A weather satellite image, courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency, shows Cyclone Yasi moving inland through the state of Queensland, Australia
Photographs: Reuters
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Queensland bracing for cyclone

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Flood alerts remained in place in some areas as river levels continue to rise.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard also asked north Queenslanders to not let their guard down in the wake of Cyclone Yasi, saying the storm was still dangerous.

Gillard said people needed to stay alert and listen to the advice of emergency services workers.

"Surging tides, powerlines that are down, flooding danger (pose a threat). There are some parts of Queensland that are bracing for the cyclone to come across land and to still hit," she said in Canberra.


Image: A set of rugby goal posts stand twisted by Cyclone Yasi
Photographs: Tim Wimborne/Reuters
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