'Destructive storm' hits Queensland

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QUEENSLAND. KAZINFORM - A "very destructive" storm has hit the coast of Queensland, forcing evacuations from coastal communities, Australian officials say.

Forecasters warn Category Five tropical cyclone Marcia - with wind gusts up to 285km/h (177 mph) - is bringing heavy rain and "abnormally high tides". The cyclone made landfall between St Lawrence and Yeppoon, BBC News reports. Separately, Category Four tropical cyclone Lam hit the Northern Territory, causing power cuts for thousands. The storm - with winds reaching 230km/h - struck Elcho Island and is moving south-west. Local residents said roofs had been torn off from a number of houses and trees uprooted. There have been no reports of injuries there, and the storm was later downgraded to Category Three as it continued moving inland. 'Real moving beast' "Severe tropical cyclone Marcia, Category Five, is currently crossing the coast near Shoalwater Bay north of Yeppoon," Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said in a statement. It said "destructive winds" would threaten communities between St Lawrence and Gladstone in the morning, and Capricornia and Burnett districts later in the day. Local residents should be prepared for an evacuation if advised by the authorities, the BoM added. It also warned about possible tidal and flash flooding. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 134 schools and 43 child care centres along the coast had been closed so far. She said 100 people had been evacuated from Lady Elliot Island, a coral cay located at the southern tip of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef, and some tourists were being moved to safety on Heron Island, also on the Great Barrier Reef. Read more

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