Flood warnings, clean-up as Australia recovers from twin cyclones
Australia was Saturday assessing the damage from two severe cyclones that left a trail of destruction, wrecking hundreds of homes and cutting electricity to thousands as authorities warned of more flooding and gusty winds.
Tropical Cyclone Marcia barrelled through the northeastern state of Queensland Friday at the highest-rated category five, ripping apart houses, uprooting trees and bringing down power lines.
The severe system hit hours after category four Tropical Cyclone Lam slammed into the Northern Territory, causing extensive damage to remote Aboriginal communities near Elcho Island, some 500 kilometres (around 300 miles) east of the capital Darwin.
Despite the destruction, authorities have so far not received reports of serious injuries, missing people, or deaths.
"Everyone is breathing a deep sigh of relief that there has been, to this date, no loss of life," Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters Saturday.
Both cyclones have since eased to tropical lows, but the Bureau of Meteorology warned of flooding, heavy rains, damaging wind gusts and dangerous surf.
Parts of southeast Queensland, which has already been saturated by a separate weather system bringing hundreds of millimetres of rain to the region since Thursday, could be hit by flooding as Marcia tracks south before moving out to sea later Saturday.
Residents in the small towns of Jambin and Goovigen south of Rockhampton in central Queensland were evacuated from their homes as the Callide river flooded.
Flood warnings have also been issued for northeast New South Wales state just below Queensland.
Palaszczuk said preliminary reports showed "a couple of hundred homes" in Yeppoon and Rockhampton had structural damage.
"The biggest issue that we are currently facing is power outages," she said.
"We have around 60,000 homes without power."
The Australian military is assisting with the damage assessment and clean-up, with two aircraft set to be deployed to central Queensland Saturday, weather permitting.
In the Northern Territory, a state of emergency has been declared for areas hardest hit by Lam.
The territory`s Police and Emergency Services Minister Peter Chandler said the measure would help communities that have suffered from power, telecommunications and water outages.
Queensland has been smashed by several major storms and cyclones over the past few years with Cyclone Oswald, also a category five, flooding parts of the state in 2013, racking up insurance claims of some Aus$977 million (US$765 million).