Coastal areas hit the worst

Despite winds topping 180mph, the north-eastern coast of Australia bore up remarkably well to the strike by yesterday’s category 5 Cyclone Yasi.

No serious casualties are known of so far. However, several people have been confirmed as missing, including one man, possibly a Canadian cruiser, who has not been heard of since moving his boat before the storm struck.

‘He said he was moving his vessel into the mangroves to be safe from the storm surge,’ said a police spokesman, ‘but we can’t get into that area by foot.’

Police will conduct a sea and air search of Port Hinchinbrook, north of Townsville near the centre of the impacted area, on Friday. An aerial survey of boats, which are stacked ‘like bath toys’ on the foreshore, in the area may locate the vessel.

Dozens of boats have also been destroyed in Cardwell which, along with other coastal communities in the area, received massive structural damage.
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Further south, in the popular sailing centre of the Whitsunday Islands, messages had gone out to charter vessels to return to base in advance of both Yasi and the preceding – but much weaker at barely category 2 – Cyclone Anthony, which made landfall on Sunday at Bowen, just 50 miles from the islands.

Dangerous beach conditions and abnormally high tides are still expected near the coast from Cairns to Proserpine, including the Whitsundays, and warnings will remain about storm surge until later today.

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