Powerful cyclone hits Australia, no casualties reported

A powerful cyclone crossed the sparsely populated Australian northeast coast Friday with winds gusting up to 230 kilometers (140 miles) per hour and lashing vast regions with driving rain.

AP Updated: Mar 20, 2015, 04:58 AM IST

Cooktown (Australia): A powerful cyclone crossed the sparsely populated Australian northeast coast Friday with winds gusting up to 230 kilometers (140 miles) per hour and lashing vast regions with driving rain.

Cyclone Nathan was a category-four storm when it crossed the coast of Queensland state between Cape Melville and Cape Flattery before dawn and at low tide, avoiding population centers, said Richard Wardle, of the Bureau of Meteorology.

The cyclone would quickly lose power as it headed inland, he said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said no injuries had been reported and the region appeared to have avoided serious damage. Authorities reported some areas had lost power.

State Emergency Service Assistant Commissioner Peter Jeffrey said the nearest towns Cooktown and Hopevale should be thankful that the storm had veered north away from them to a remote area.

He warned the 150 kilometer (90 mile) per hour winds felt in the Cooktown and Hopevale areas were damaging.

Banana crops and power lines could be damaged and localized flash flooding could occur, he said.

Jeffrey said it was fortunate that Nathan crossed at low tide, but residents in the affected area should be prepared for the possibility of flooding at high tide later in the morning.

The cyclone struck a week after category-five storm Cyclone Pam devastated the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu to the east, killing at least 11.