Wednesday 24 January 2018

Cyclone Debbie's 250kmh winds leave Queensland 'like a warzone'

Cyclone Debbie hits at Airlie Beach, near Townsville, Australia. Photo: Reuters
Cyclone Debbie hits at Airlie Beach, near Townsville, Australia. Photo: Reuters

Edward Johnson in Sydney

A huge clean-up operation is under way in the Australian state of Queensland after a powerful cyclone swept through the region, tearing roofs off buildings, downing trees and forcing tourists to bunker down at resorts.

The Whitsunday Islands, in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, suffered "substantial damage" when Cyclone Debbie swept through yesterday, and roads have been cut off around coastal towns, state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told ABC television.

Andrew Willcox, a regional mayor, told the broadcaster the town of Bowen looks "like a war zone".

Australia's military was deployed to the north-east coast following the "catastrophic" cyclone with wind speeds of 250kmh.

Severe weather warnings remained in place even after Debbie was downgraded to a tropical low overnight as it moved inland, with damaging wind and heavy rain expected to cause flooding. There were limited reports of injuries in storm-affected areas, Ms Palaszczuk said.

A resident in the town of Proserpine, who huddled with her husband in their bathroom, described her horror as the cyclone tore off their neighbour's roof. "The next-door neighbour's roof has been flying off for hours and it's smashed into our side windows - we've got three broken windows now so the rooms are totalled," the woman, named Sue, told ABC News. "I'm in the safest place, but that doesn't mean I'm safe. I'm in a very small bathroom and you can just hear these other crashing noises and the doors shaking. It's really horrible."

Irish Independent

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