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Australian town hit by violent storm, several hurt

world Updated: Jun 03, 2010 17:30 IST

A violent storm and waterspout swept through a coastal town in eastern Australia on Thursday, tearing the roofs off homes, devastating a caravan park and leaving several people injured, officials said.

The rotating thunderstorm, known as a supercell, and a waterspout that formed underneath it caused considerable damage in the town of Lennox Head in northern New South Wales state, said meteorologist Julie Evans of the Bureau of Meteorology. Lennox Head resident Rob Brown said a loud noise awoke him and his family and that when he went outside, he saw a waterspout heading straight for him.

"Before I knew it, trees were being uprooted, bricks tossed around and flung into fences, and houses were going up into the air - it was carnage," he said.

"I grabbed the kids and told them to stay away from the windows, which started blowing in. It only lasted about three minutes, but the roof of my garage ended up 200 meters (650 feet) down the street."

Wind and hail destroyed dozens of houses and left about 2,000 homes without power, New South Wales Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan said.

"The power pole's bent, there's caravans on top of caravans ... debris everywhere - it's unbelievable," resident Anna Dicker told Fairfax Radio Network.

Several people were injured, and residents were advised to stay away from areas where downed power lines were lying across roads, New South Wales police said.

About 80 people had gathered at an evacuation center, Lennox Head Mayor Phillip Silver said.