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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Monster cyclone belts east Australia

SYDNEY — Destruction was catastrophic but there were no immediate reports of deaths Thursday after a monster cyclone crashed over Australia’s northeast coast.

Cyclone Yasi was downgraded from category five to category three strength as it lost force and spun inland over farming country in north Queensland.

The cyclone made landfall near Mission Beach, 85 miles south of Cairns.

“”It’s too early to call, but I’m certainly very relieved that even at this early stage we haven’t had any reports yet of fatalities or injury,”” Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said.

“”We’ve also had no reports of structural damage to any of the evacuation centers, and that’s certainly a cause for breathing a sigh of relief.””

Bligh warned that it would be several hours before officials could reach Mission Beach and other remote places to check on residents.

“”We’re still experiencing torrential rain and high winds, so it’s not yet safe for people to be out assessing the damage.””

The region is home to around 300,000 people, an estimated half of whom would be in properties that were without electricity because power poles were brought down in the worst storm in living memory.

Cairns, a city of 122,000 people located 1,050 miles north of Brisbane, was initially in the direct line of the storm but was spared its full force.

Yasi packed winds of 180 miles per hour, created massive thunderstorms and generated a tidal surge that may have inundated thousands of properties.

“”Over the next 12 hours, as the system continues to be fairly intense and moving towards Georgetown, there is still going to be fairly strong and damaging wind gusts up to 125 kilometers per hour (77 mph) as it spreads inland,”” the Bureau of Meteorology said.

A bureau spokesman said Yasi slowed as it neared the coast, so its crossing did not coincide with the high tide as had been feared.

“”So the wave height at Cardwell, for instance, was 7.5 meters, not 9 meters,”” he said. “”But you always have to assume that it will cross at high tide.””

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