Flood-weary Australians flee "monster" storm

February 01, 2011 12:21 pm | Updated October 13, 2016 09:45 pm IST - CAIRNS

In this file photo taken on Jan. 13, 2011, two residents walk through floodwaters to their flooded residence in a suburb of Brisbane, Australia. Cyclone Yasi, a strong tropical cyclone, moving toward Australia's flood-ravaged northeast on Tuesday,  prompted evacuations and warnings from officials that the storm could be the worst the already-swamped region has ever seen.

In this file photo taken on Jan. 13, 2011, two residents walk through floodwaters to their flooded residence in a suburb of Brisbane, Australia. Cyclone Yasi, a strong tropical cyclone, moving toward Australia's flood-ravaged northeast on Tuesday, prompted evacuations and warnings from officials that the storm could be the worst the already-swamped region has ever seen.

Thousands of people fled from the path of a monster storm bearing down on north-eastern Australia that officials warned on Tuesday was almost certain to cause widespread damage and could turn deadly in a State still suffering from massive floods.

Hospitals in the tourist gateway of Cairns emptied as military evacuation flights ferried the ill and elderly to safety far south from a long stretch of Queensland State's tropical coast that are in the path of Cyclone Yasi. The Cairns airport was scheduled to close on Wednesday.

“Cyclone Yasi was forecast to hit the coast late on Wednesday or early on Thursday with wind gusts of around 250 km per hour.

Forecasters said up to one metre of rain could fall on some coastal communities. Many parts of Queensland State are already saturated from months of flooding, though the worst floods hit areas hundreds of kilometres farther south of the towns in the immediate path of Yasi. Still, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said residents up and down the coast needed to prepare. “It's such a big storm — it's a monster, killer storm — that it's not just about where this crosses the coast that is at risk,” said Ms. Bligh.

“I know many of us will feel that Queensland has already borne about as much as we can bear when it comes to disasters and storms,” she said. “But more is being asked of us.”

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