Australia braces for Category 5 storm

At 10pm local time – noon today GMT – the biggest storm in living memory is due to make landfall somewhere south of the city of Cairns.

More than 400,000 people live in the cyclone’s path, and the tropical

area, which includes the Great Barrier Reef, is popular with tourists.

At its southern end, around 140 miles south-east of Townsville – which

may take a direct hit – lies the sailing mecca of the Whitsunday

Islands.

The Australian government has told residents that is is already too late for those in coastal areas to evacuate. The Meteorology Bureau has warned that ‘this impact is likely to be more life-threatening than any experienced during recent generations’.

Yasi, a category 5 cyclone, follows the floods which have battered the region since November. The anticipated 185mph winds will drive 7m wave surges that are expected to pile on further devastating damage. The eye of the cyclone is 22 miles wide and its front stretches 400 miles.

For more information go to www.bbc.co.uk