Cyclone-ravaged Australia like 'a war zone'

2017-03-29 06:41
Bradley Mitchell inspects the damage to his uncle's boat after it smashed against the bank at Shute Harbour, Airlie Beach, Australia. (AP)

Bradley Mitchell inspects the damage to his uncle's boat after it smashed against the bank at Shute Harbour, Airlie Beach, Australia. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Ayr - Towns were cut off and without power in northern Australia on Wednesday after being pummelled by a powerful cyclone that washed battered yachts ashore and ripped roofs off houses in scenes compared to "a war zone".

The category four storm slammed into the coast of Queensland state between Bowen and Airlie Beach on Tuesday afternoon, packing destructive winds and devastating some of the region's tourist hotspots.

It has since been downgraded to a tropical low but the Bureau of Meteorology still warned of damaging wind gusts with "intense" rain, sparking flood fears.

"This rainfall is likely to lead to major river flooding over a broad area this week," it said.

Some areas have been drenched in 1 000mm of rain in just 48 hours - the equivalent of half a year's worth, according to the weather bureau.

Roads to the towns of Bowen, Airlie Beach and Proserpine were inaccessible, with more than 60 000 homes without power and communications down in many areas.

Police said boats would be used to reach worst-hit coastal areas.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was early days for damage assessments and she was worried people might be injured but had been unable to contact emergency services.

"We just don't know how many people are injured, the status of their homes, and what we are hearing is that we are seeing some structural damage in places such as Proserpine," she said.

On a brighter note, a baby girl was born at an ambulance station on the Whitsunday islands as the storm raged outside.

"You know, out of all of this, to see a little miracle, I think brings a smile to a lot of faces," said Palaszczuk.

So far there have been no reports of deaths from cyclone Debbie. A man was badly injured when a wall collapsed on him on Tuesday.

'Like a warzone'

Great Barrier Reef islands popular with foreign tourists were among the worst hit.

Daydream Island Resort said it bore the brunt of the storm and sustained significant damage, including to its jetty and accommodation wings.

"Conditions were extreme with heavy rainfall and strong wind gusts causing damage to the resort and surrounds," it said in a statement, adding that all guests had been accounted for but it was running out of fresh water.

As day broke, scenes of devastation began to emerge.

Pictures posted on social media showed a light plane flipped upside down, yachts washed ashore, power poles down and trees fallen on houses.

Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Andrew Willcox described the scene in cyclone-ravaged Bowen as "like a war zone".

"This beautiful seaside town is now half-wrecked, but we will rebuild," he told Channel Nine television.

In the mining town of Collinsville, roofs were reported ripped off houses from a storm residents called emotionally draining, with winds raging for hours.

"I'm shattered emotionally and physically. I've gone through the worst 24 hours I've experienced in my 53 years," a local identified only as Julie told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Wind gusts of up to 270kph were reported near Debbie's broad core.

Debbie 'a catastrophe'

Emergency crews ventured out at first light to better assess the damage, with the federal government having soldiers, helicopters and planes on standby to help.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he had "put in place the biggest pre-deployment of the Australian Defence Force in advance of a natural disaster".

Having lived through cyclones before, many were prepared and boarded up homes after warnings to expect the worst weather in the state since Cyclone Yasi in 2011, which ripped houses from their foundations and devastated crops.

Tens of thousands evacuated to higher ground, cyclones shelters or left the region before it hit.

Yasi, which struck less populated areas, caused damage estimated at Aus$1.4 billion. Debbie has officially been declared a catastrophe by the Insurance Council of Australia, allowing claims from the disaster to be prioritised.

Read more on:    australia  |  cyclones

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/Sport
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.