Power cut to 60,000 as cyclone hits Australia

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
March 21, 2010 04:07

 
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AIRLIE BEACH, Australia — About 60,000 homes are without power, trees and signs have blown over and boats have been smashed on the rocks after a massive storm blew across the coast of northeastern Australia.

Tropical Cyclone Ului crossed the coast at Airlie Beach as a category three storm early Sunday with winds up to 124 miles (200 kilometers) per hour.

A dozen boats were washed onto the rocks at Airlie Beach, but businesses on the main street escaped any significant damage.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the storm has since been downgraded to category two as it continues inland, dumping heavy rain and still blowing strongly.

Whitsundays Mayor Mike Brunker said the energy company had crews on standby to restore power but that work could not begin until the winds died down.

He said disaster management authorities would meet later in the day to assess the damages.

Resorts along the Great Barrier Reef evacuated earlier in the week in anticipation of the storm. Residents likely to be affected have taped up windows and stocked up on supplies.

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