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Residents flee storm in north Australia.

A powerful tropical cyclone packing winds of up to 180mph slammed into Australia's north-eastern coast yesterday after more than 1,000 tourists and local residents were evacuated to higher ground, the weather bureau said.

Tropical cyclone Larry smashed into the coastal community of Innisfail, about 62 miles south of Cairns, a popular jumping-off point for the Great Barrier Reef, forecaster Jonty Hall said.

The weather bureau upgraded the storm to a category five - the strongest category possible - and thousands of residents were evacuated ahead of the cyclone's arrival.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, but officials predicted the storm could cause widespread devastation.

Hall said conditions were 'terrible' in the region, and warned of surging coastal tides and gale force winds along a 186-mile stretch of coast in north-eastern Queensland.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 20, 2006
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