Cyclone Damien batters northwestern Australia
Sydney: Tropical cyclone Damien lashed northwestern Australia’s resource-rich Pilbara region Saturday, downing trees and forcing locals to heed a code red emergency warning and hunker down indoors. The category three storm brought winds of 195 kilometres per hour (121 miles per hour), sending debris into the air, knocking over trees and — in a few instances — ripping roofs off sheds and other outbuildings. The Bureau of Meteorology said Damien had brought “very destructive winds”, “very heavy rainfall” and could yet spark dangerous storm surges. Power was reportedly knocked out around the towns of Dampier and Karratha, but there were no immediate reports of serious damage to homes or businesses. The sparsely populated area — home to several of Australia’s largest iron ore producers — experiences cyclones regularly. Many locals stocked up on essentials and locked down their homes as the storm approached. Mines and ports cleared out non-essential staff. But Damien did not strengthen to a category four storm on the five-point scale as had been feared. – AFP