- Title: AUSTRALIA: Country starts to assess damage from Cyclone Yasi
- Date: 4th February 2011
- Summary: TULLY, AUSTRALIA (FEBRUARY 3, 2011) (REUTERS) STATE EMERGENCY SERVICES WORKERS CUTTING BRANCHES OF UPROOTED TREE WHICH HAS FALLEN ON HOSPITAL DAMAGED PROPERTY PEOPLE STANDING ON DAMAGED PROPERTY (SOUNDBITE) (English) RESIDENT, JASWINDER SINGH, SAYING: "It's just like, I can't explain, It's like too fast. Too dark. Too much noise. People were crying, its gone like quickly over here." SILKWOOD, AUSTRALIA (FEBRUARY 3, 2011) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF DESTROYED HOUSE (SOUNDBITE) (English) SILKWOOD RESIDENT JAMIE FAULKS SAYING: "Lucky to be alive. But unlucky to have this happen to you twice in five years or whatever it was." TULLY, AUSTRALIA (FEBRUARY 3, 2011) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF DAMAGED HOUSE
- Embargoed: 19th February 2011 09:46
- Location: Australia, Australia
- Country: Australia
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVA27ND9R4NCOEH9JWKLZ99LS3ZJ
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Australians voiced relief and surprise after one of the world's most powerful cyclones spared the nation's northeast coast from expected devastation on Thursday (February 3), with no reported deaths despite winds tearing off roofs and toppling trees.
Cyclone Yasi, roughly the size of Italy and packing winds of up to around 300 km per hour (186 miles per hour), threatened Australia with its second major natural disaster in as many months this week but ended up missing heavily populated areas.
Australia, a vast continent with less than three people for every square km, is one of the few countries where a storm as large and terrifying as Yasi -- with a diameter of up to around 500 km (310 miles) -- could simply miss major cities.
Even as Yasi began its 1,000 km (620 mile) inland march into the outback on Thursday, weakening all the time, tracking forecasts showed it was likely to hit only a handful of small towns in a region home to around 400,000 people.
The lack of any major damage or substantial casualties was also attributed to several days of cyclone preparation, early evacuations, laws that ensure newer homes and buildings are strong enough to survive a cyclone, and less than expected sea flooding as the cyclone missed the peak tides.
The eye of the cyclone crossed the coast near the tourist town of Mission Beach, where devastating Cyclone Larry struck in 2006, and damaged areas around Tully and Cardwell, where many older homes, built before tougher building codes were applied, suffered severe damage.
Authorities said initial reports suggested only about 100 houses had suffered major damage. There were no initial reports of serious injuries.
Hills around Tully were covered in snapped trees and scoured almost clean of vegetation by the force of the wind.
The main road into Tully was flooded and several houses had roofs torn off.
Twenty-eight year-old Jaswinder Singh and his wife returned home to find their house destroyed.
"It's just like, I can't explain, It's like too fast. Too dark. Too much noise. People were crying, its gone like quickly over here," said Singh, describing the storm.
In the town of Silkwood, residents were salvaging what is left of their property.
"Lucky to be alive. But unlucky to have this happen to you twice in five years or whatever it was," said 30- year-old Jamie Faulks, who also went through Cyclone Larry.
The cyclone had cut electricity to around 200,000 homes, but main links to the power grid remained intact.
Queensland has had a cruel summer, with floods sweeping across it and other eastern states in recent months, killing 35 people and causing damage estimated at $10 billion or more.
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