SYDNEY (Reuters) – Howling winds, heavy rain and big seas pounded Australia’s northeast on Tuesday, damaging houses, wrecking jetties and reducing energy to hundreds of individuals as Tropical Cyclone Debbie tore by Queensland state’s far north.

Wind gusts stronger than 160 mph had been recorded at vacationer resorts alongside the world-famous Nice Barrier Reef because the highly effective storm made landfall as a class 4, one rung under probably the most harmful wind velocity stage.

It was later downgraded to a class three storm. Forecasters stated excessive winds might persist for so long as 10 hours, though it might then weaken quickly and was anticipated to be downgraded to class one earlier than daybreak on Wednesday.

Police stated one man was badly harm when a wall collapsed at Proserpine, about 900 km (560 miles) northwest of the Queensland capital, Brisbane, and was taken to hospital.

Nonetheless, the climate was nonetheless too dangerous to evaluate injury absolutely or mount an emergency response.

“We may even obtain extra stories of accidents, if not deaths. We must be ready for that,” Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart advised reporters in Brisbane.

Cyclone Debbie made landfall at Airlie Seaside, north of Proserpine, shortly after noon native time (0200 GMT), knocking out phone companies.

“It’s very noisy: Screaming, howling wind … feels like a freight practice,” Jan Clifford advised Reuters by textual content from Airlie Seaside because the cyclone made landfall.

“Nonetheless blowing like loopy,” she stated 4 hours later.

Authorities had urged hundreds of individuals in low-lying areas to flee their houses on Monday, in what would have been the largest evacuation seen in Australia since Cyclone Tracy devastated the northern metropolis of Darwin on Christmas Day, 1974.

CATASTROPHE DECLARED

Torrential rain flooded streets and wind smashed home windows, uprooted bushes and tossed particles by streets, whereas jetties at Airlie Seaside marina had been wrecked, 9 Community tv photos confirmed.

Energy was reduce for 48,000 folks in a large space between the cities of Bowen and Mackay, north and south of Airlie Seaside, Ergon Vitality spokesman John Fowler stated.

PETER PARKS through Getty Photographs

Lashing rain and howling winds battered northeast Australia, sending residents and vacationers into space shelters.

Ports at Abbot Level, Mackay and Hay Level had been shut, and Townsville airport was closed. Airways Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia suspended all flights to and from the area and stated planes is also grounded on Wednesday.

BHP Billiton and Glencore halted work at their coal mines within the storm’s path.

The Insurance coverage Council of Australia declared Cyclone Debbie a disaster, making it simpler to make claims, however stated in a press release it was too early to estimate the price of injury.

With a watch 50 km (30 miles) extensive, the cyclone had earlier broken vacationer resorts, washed away seashores and tore boats from moorings because it swept by the Whitsunday islands, friends advised Reuters by phone.

Cyclone Debbie is the strongest storm to hit Queensland since Cyclone Yasi destroyed houses and crops and devastated island resorts in 2011.

Authorities had feared tidal surges in low-lying areas because the storm whipped up waves and currents and lifted sea ranges, however stated later that hazard had eased.

Holidaymakers tried to make the most effective of it as they bunkered down in resort buildings. “Go to the Whitsundays they stated, it’d be enjoyable they stated, lovely climate over right here,” holidaymaker Kurt Moore advised the Sydney Morning Herald.

“I’m so glad we bought evacuated out of the place we had been staying it, I believe we’d be pooping watermelons proper now to be trustworthy,” he stated.

Regardless of issuing evacuation orders, police stated they weren’t certain how many individuals had heeded their recommendation.

That didn’t deter some thrill-seeking bodyboarders who paddled out to surf within the heaving seas at Airlie Seaside, tv footage confirmed.