3 die as cyclone rips through n.w. Australia

As many as three people were killed when a powerful storm smashed into Australia's northwest coast, destroying houses and cutting off communications at a remote mining construction camp, officials said Friday. Cyclone George, packing winds of up to 280 kph (174 mph), crossed the coast about two hours before midnight Thursday near the mining support town of Port Hedland, about 1,650 kilometers (1,025 miles) north of Perth, the capital of Western Australia state, the Bureau of Meteorology said. State leader Alan Carpenter said as many as three people were killed, but added the reports were unconfirmed. Police spokesman Ian Hasleby confirmed the death of one woman, and said up to 20 other were injured at a camp near the Wadgina mine site about 100 kilometers (66 miles) south of Port Hedland when temporary workers' huts collapsed in the storm.