Several people were injured and houses destroyed today as a violent storm and waterspout swept through a coastal town, tearing the roofs off homes and devastating a caravan park, officials said.

The storm, which struck the northern New South Wales state town of Lennox Head, was a rotating thunderstorm known as a ‘supercell’, said meteorologist Julie Evans of the Bureau of Meteorology. A waterspout formed underneath the storm and moved onto the land and across several houses, causing considerable damage, she said.

The State Emergency Service said about a dozen homes lost their roofs and several others had smashed windows and other damage.

New South Wales police said a “number of persons” were injured, and asked residents to stay away from the area as it was cluttered with loose debris and downed power lines were lying across roads. Officials have set up an evacuation center.

“It was pretty bad. There’s several houses in our vicinity who’ve lost their roofs, their windows, a lot of damage from flying debris,” Anna Dicker, owner of Lennox Head Hostel, told Fairfax Radio Network. “The power pole’s bent, there’s caravans on top of caravans ... debris everywhere, it’s unbelievable.”

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