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Severe storm batters Australia

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A powerful cyclone has pummelled the north-east Australian coast, causing major damage, torrential rain and power cuts to tens of thousands of homes, reported BBC (UK).
Cyclone Debbie made landfall between Bowen and Airlie Beach in Queensland as a category four storm, whipping gusts of up to 263km/h (163mph).

It is moving inland as a category two storm but could cause damage for hours yet.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he was aware of one death so far.
Activating a disaster response plan, he stressed the picture could develop when emergency crews were able to assess the damage.

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Shocking images have revealed the devastation at cyclone-battered Hamilton Island as authorities scramble to assist holiday-makers, reported News.com.au (Australia).
The island bore the brunt of the ex-tropical Cyclone Debbie and has sustained substantial structural damage.
One tourist on the island described the moment Debbie hit, saying it was like “bloody mayhem”.
Mat Garner told the Whitsunday Times he and his family are still on lockdown in their holiday house on the northeastern corner of the island.

“The roar was so loud, wind was phenomenal, all the windows rattled and shook violently,” he said.
“There are houses with roofs ripped off, glass panels smashed, guttering missing, and trees uprooted, golf buggies shredded....
“I haven’t got down the marina front yet and I have to go check my uncle’s house next door once the winds go down a bit.”

Queensland’s premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is flying north into cyclone-ravaged areas where the devastating effects of Cyclone Debbie are becoming clearer with each passing hour.
Since dawn broke images of shattered homes, businesses and critical infrastructure have steadily emerged, and it’s now certain the state faces a long and very expensive road to recovery.

And Debbie isn’t done with the state just yet. The former slow-moving category four cyclones is now a rain depression that’s already left rivers in cyclone-hit communities in flood.

Residents of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and Brisbane can expect their brush with wild weather from Thursday evening.
By then the low pressure system will be over the populated southeast corner, and could cause flash flooding into Friday before it moves offshore, the Bureau of Meteorology has warned.

Some people could be without power for up to a week. On Wednesday, 63,000 households were going without.
The premier has warned of “huge” economic impacts for farmers in the cyclone zone, and of a body blow to tourism, with Debbie causing significant damage to Whitsunday Islands resorts.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said everything possible was being done to help cyclone victims.

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