Thousands of people have been evacuated from Australia’s northeast coast in anticipation of Cyclone Yasi.
Mines, rail lines, coal ports and hospitals are being shut down with authorities warning it will soon not be safe to travel potentially destructive winds of up to 280 kph begin to batter the region.
“This storm is huge and life threatening,” Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said.
The Cyclone, which could rival Hurricane Katrina in intensity poses a real threat to local tourism and sugar industry and there are fears that Yasi’s 650 km front could reach as far as mining town of Mt Isa, 900 km inland.
There are fears that parts of Queensland already devastated by the recent floods might also be affected.
Flood towns may be hit by cyclone
Satellite images reveal Yasi to be a monster storm covering almost the entire Coral Sea.
The destructive gale-force winds are expected to sweep from Cooktown to Townsville, an area populated with with more than 400,000 people.
Deputy Police Commissioner Ian Stewart warned residents:”Please make no mistake, this storm is a deadly event. People need to take action between now and tomorrow morning, after which time in the high-impact areas it will be unsafe to travel.”
Yasi is still expected to make landfall late tomorrow or early Thursday.
Queensland is still cleaning up after massive floods which recently devastated a huge swathe of the state and claimed the lives of 35 people.