Cyclone, heavy rain thrash Aus’ northeast
International Desk:Weather forecasters said, high winds could persist for as long as 10 hours, although it would then weaken rapidly and was expected to be downgraded to category one before dawn on Wednesday.
Howling winds, heavy rain and huge seas pounded Australia’s northeast on Tuesday, destroying homes, wrecking jetties and cutting power to thousands of people as Tropical Cyclone Debbie tore through Queensland state’s far north. Wind gusts stronger than 260 km per hour (160 mph) were recorded at tourist resorts along the world-famous Great Barrier Reef as the powerful storm made landfall as a category four, one rung below the most dangerous wind speed level.
It was later downgraded to a category three storm. Forecasters said high winds could persist for as long as 10 hours, although it would then weaken fast and was hoped to be downgraded to category one before dawn on Wednesday. Police said one man was badly hurt when a wall collapsed at Proserpine, about 900 km (560 miles) northwest of the Queensland capital, Brisbane, and was taken to hospital. However, the weather was still too bad to assess damage fully or mount an emergency response.
“We will also get more reports of injuries, if not deaths. We require to be prepared for that,” Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart told reporters in Brisbane. Cyclone Debbie made landfall at Airlie Beach, north of Proserpine, shortly after midday local time (0200 GMT), knocking out telephone services.