Australia: Queensland surveys Cyclone Ita harm
Residents in northern Queensland are waking up to survey the damage after Cyclone Ita brought winds of up to 230km/h (140mph) to parts of Australia.
Tens of thousands of people hunkered down overnight amid warnings of severe gales, flash flooding and storm tides.
The cyclone made landfall at Cape Flattery but weakened as it travelled inland, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said.
It is the strongest storm to hit since Cyclone Yasi, which struck in 2011.
Previously classed as a category-five storm, Ita was later downgraded by the BOM to category two.
In its bulletin at 08:00 local time on Saturday (22:00 GMT Friday), the BOM said the storm was 55km southwest of Cooktown and 135km northwest of Cairns and moving south at 10km/h.
“Destructive winds with gusts to 130km/h are possible south of Cooktown to Port Douglas for a brief period this morning,” the bulletin said.
Residents in the path of the cyclone have been urged to “stay calm and remain in a secure shelter”.
‘Blowing its guts out’
A cyclone warning is in place for areas from Cape Flattery to Cardwell, including Cooktown, Port Douglas, Cairns and a number of inland areas.
Cooktown Mayor Peter Scott said in quotes carried by ABC that around 350 people were in the town’s cyclone shelter on Friday night.
“In polite terms it’s blowing its guts out at the moment,” he said. “We had a power outage… but power has [now] been restored”.
So far there are reports of damage to roofs and fallen trees but no major incidents.
Cyclone Ita brought torrential rain to the Solomon Islands late last week, causing flash floods that left at least 21 people dead.