Australians have voiced their relief that no-one was killed by a powerful cyclone which threatened to devastate the country’s north-east coast.

Cyclone Yasi, the size of Italy and with winds expected to strike at 300km per hour, ended up missing heavily populated areas.

The storm destroyed 15 per cent of Australia’s sugar cane crop, pushing up world prices to the highest levels in three decades.

“It’s amazing no-one was killed. The wind was howling like a banshee,” said farmer Nathan Fisher.

Cyclone Yasi: Thousands evaculated from northeast Australia

Building engineers don’t think the cyclone was as powerful as forecast.

“If winds were at 300 km an hour it would have been a 100 percent wipe out,” said James Cook University’s George Walker.

“Even the newer buildings would by and large stay up but suffer some damage.”

But the lack of damage was also attributed to early evacuations and several days of preparation to ensure new buildings could survive the storm.

Cyclone Yasi nears Queensland coast