Tamil Diplomat

Destruction as massive cyclones hit Australia

Two powerful cyclones pounded Australia Friday, leaving a trail of destruction with houses ripped apart, trees uprooted and electricity cut to thousands of people, but authorities expressed relief there were no fatalities.Tropical Cyclone Marcia, a top-rating category five storm, slammed into the Queensland coast just after 2200 GMT Thursday with its landfall coming just hours after Cyclone Lam hit further north.

The category four Lam caused extensive damage to remote Aboriginal communities near Elcho Island, some 500 kilometres (310 miles) east of the Northern Territory capital Darwin, including Milingimbi, Ramingining, and Gapuwiyak.

Meanwhile, howling winds and torrential rain had residents hunkering down to wait out the terrifying conditions whipped up by Marcia which landed near Shoalwater Bay, a town of 16,000 people some 670 kilometres north of Brisbane.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said while there had been “a lot of structural damage” in the towns of Yeppoon and Rockhampton as the storm passed through, “thankfully to date there is no loss of life”.

“The good news is that the cyclone has now been classified, downgraded to a category two,” she said.Residents of the coastal town of Yeppoon step through fallen trees alongside a damaged home after Cy …

An assessment of the damage around the two towns would be carried out by helicopters on Saturday, Palaszczuk said, with two Australian military aircraft assisting, weather permitting.Queensland’s state emergency service said that so far they had only received reports of “some minor injuries”, but that no one was known to be seriously hurt or missing.

Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow said there were 268 reports of structural damage and localised flooding with “many people without power”.Palaszczuk added that fears a separate weather system inundating the state’s southeast with heavy rain could became as severe as the 2011 floods — when the east coast city of Brisbane was brought to a standstill for several days — had now eased.

Officials originally forecast Yeppoon to bear the bru