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Australia: Evacuation orders as tropical cyclone approaches

Australia: Evacuation orders as tropical cyclone approaches

Authorities in Western Australia on Thursday issued a “red alert” and ordered evacuations as the tropical cyclone approaches, with strong winds and fears of significant human and property damage.

Forecasters have estimated that the Category 4 storm could reach speeds of 315 kilometers per hour, making it one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the country in a decade.

Cyclone Ilsa is expected to make landfall on Thursday evening or Friday morning between the coastal towns of Broome and Port Hedland (northeast), about 17 hours’ drive north of Perth, the state capital of Western Australia.

Ships at Port Hedland, one of the world’s major iron ore shipping hubs, have been taken to safety as a precaution.

The hurricane’s destructive winds, which are gathering speed in the Indian Ocean, could turn flying debris into real “missiles … it causes all the damage, it hurts people,” the city’s mayor, Peter Carter, told national broadcaster ABC. “Everybody’s on edge,” he said.

The Met Office warned that the cyclone’s strong winds could be strong enough to uproot “caravans” or uproot trees or power lines, causing widespread destruction. Flash floods are also a concern, according to the agency.

The storm is then expected to move inland. Weather warnings are in place for a vast, sparsely populated area, about 1,000 kilometers from the coast to the Outback desert.

The Western Australian State Department of Fire and Emergency Services said ‘it cannot be emphasized enough how serious these conditions are for people in the area’.

Australian researchers have repeatedly warned of the impact of climate change on the risk of natural disasters such as bushfires, floods and cyclones.

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