Cyclone Yasi hits north-eastern Australia

Strong winds and driving rain began buffeting northeast Australia  as one of the country's biggest-ever storms bore down Wednesday while residents huddled in evacuation centers or hid at home in bathrooms behind piles of blankets and mattresses.
Australian leaders issued dire warnings of potential devastation for cities and towns dotted along a stretch of coast more than 190 miles (300 kilometers) long in north Queensland state, in an area considered the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.