Cyclone approaches Australia's west coast

Published on Mar 30, 2006 09:45 AM IST

Authorities urged hundreds of residents who did not already leave to abandon any evacuation plans.

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None | ByAssociated Press, Perth (australia)

Authorities urged hundreds of residents who did not already leave to abandon any evacuation plans and take immediate shelter on Thursday as a severe cyclone approached Australia's northwestern coast.

Strong winds and heavy rains lashed the remote Pilbara region in Western Australia state as residents battened down for Cyclone Glenda, a severe category four storm heading towards the coastal mining town of Karratha, about 1,000 kilometres north of Perth.

"We are asking people to stay indoors and to seek shelter," said Jim Cahill, an operations manager with the Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia.

"The cyclone is basically very close and there are extreme winds and a lot of danger. If people haven't evacuated by now, it's probably a bit late," he said.

Glenda was downgraded from a maximum category five storm to category four last night.

But the storm was still expected to wreak havoc along Australia's isolated Pilbara coastline, home to few major towns but many huge mining complexes including major iron ore and diamond mines.

About 14,000 people live in Karratha, and another 1,200 live in nearby Dampier.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology predicted the storm would cross the coast later on Thursday, packing wind speeds of up to 250 kph and heavy rains.

The bureau also warned residents in low lying areas about possible flooding brought on by a "very dangerous storm tide as the cyclone crosses the coast.

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