Super cyclone hits northeastern Australia
I hope Peggy is OK…. 😦 Although I think she lives south of most of what hit Queensland…
BRISBANE, Australia (AFP) – Sun Mar 19, 5:51 PM ET
A super cyclone smashed into tropical northeastern Australia, with winds of up to 290 kilometres an hour (180 mph) causing casualties and ripping homes apart, officials said.
Tropical Cyclone Larry hit land near Innisfail in the far north of Queensland state as a top category five, but had since been downgraded to a category four, the Queensland weather bureau said.
It is the strongest cyclone to strike Australia in more than 30 years and was seen as potentially more dangerous than Cyclone Tracy, which devastated the northern city of Darwin in 1974, killing 71 people and leaving 20,000 homeless.
Innisfail police said they had been inundated with calls from terrified residents whose "homes are literally crumbling around them".
"We have roofs flying off in Fly Fish Point, Silkwood and in the city centre," an Innisfail police spokeswoman said. "And we have trees across roads."
Police had been unable to leave the station despite hundreds of calls for help, she said.
"We've had reports of some casualties at Cairns hospital, some 20 or so," weather bureau forecaster Jonty Hall said. "There's also some reports of a few people missing as well."
Queensland state Premier Peter Beattie declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm's landfall late Sunday, opening the way for mandatory evacuations in several coastal areas, where tidal surges of up to two metres (6.6 feet) were expected.
Hundreds of people evacuated coastal towns in the area and major airlines cancelled all flights into Cairns and Townsville, the two biggest cities in the region. More