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Thousands evacuated as cyclone bears down on Australia

Monday, 27 March 2017

Cairns (Australia) – Thousands of people including tourists were being evacuated Monday as northern Australia braced for a powerful cyclone packing destructive winds with warnings of major structural damage and surging tides.

Cyclone Debbie has been forming off the coast of Queensland state over recent days, the Bureau of Meteorology said, and is expected to hit land after daybreak Tuesday morning. Residents are being warned to prepare for the worst storm to pummel the state since Cyclone Yasi in 2011, which ripped homes from their foundations and devastated crops.

So far more 3,500 people have been evacuated between the towns of Home Hill and Proserpine, around 100 kilometres (62 miles) south of Townsville, a popular tourist hotspot used to access the Great Barrier Reef. Another 2,000 will be advised to leave throughout Monday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. More than 100 schools have been closed, along with local ports.

The premier urged residents to do as emergency service personnel asked, amid reports some people were refusing to leave. Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said the storm already appeared to have claimed the life of a tourist, as many visitors flee areas in the firing line.

The meteorology bureau said Debbie was currently a category three cyclone on a scale of five but was expected to build to a four by the time it crosses land somewhere between Townsville and Proserpine, with wind gusts of up 280 kmh near the centre.

Source by: Internet

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