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Up to three people killed as cyclone rips through town in northwestern Australia

Up to three people killed as cyclone rips through town in northwestern Australia

As many as three people were killed when a powerful storm smashed into Australia's northwest coast, destroying houses and cutting off communications at a remote mining construction camp, officials said Friday.
Cyclone George, packing winds of up to 280 kph (174 mph), crossed the coast about two hours before midnight Thursday near the mining support town of Port Hedland, about 1,650 kilometers (1,025 miles) north of Perth, the capital of Western Australia state, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
State leader Alan Carpenter said as many as three people were killed, but added the reports were unconfirmed.
Police spokesman Ian Hasleby confirmed the death of one woman, and said up to 20 other were injured at a camp near the Wadgina mine site about 100 kilometers (66 miles) south of Port Hedland when temporary workers' huts collapsed in the storm.
The storm tore off roofs, mangled fences, felled trees and cut power and phone lines to at least three towns in the region, State Emergency Services manager Derek Jones said Friday.
The full extent of the damage would not be known until later in the day, he said.
"We'll have teams out and about as soon as we're mobile," he said. "At this stage we ask residents to stay inside until it's all clear."
Police inspector Phil Clews said officers had received reports that some people were trapped inside collapsed buildings, and the number of deaths was still unknown.
"We have a number of injured people, some serious. We have concerns about the possibility of fatalities," he told reporters in the nearby town of Karratha.
On Thursday, authorities evacuated hundreds of people from the town and mining companies shut down their ports and offshore rigs along the coast as the cyclone approached.
Forecasters warned of potentially dangerous winds as the storm moves inland Friday to the Pilbara region. It was expected to gradually lose power if it stays over land.
Cyclones _ called typhoons throughout much of Asia and hurricanes in the Western hemisphere _ are large-scale rotating storms that generate high winds and typically form at sea before moving inland.
The tropical storms are common along Australia's northern and western coasts from November to April.


Updated : 2021-10-18 17:01 GMT+08:00