Coastal Queensland has taken another lashing from the forces of nature with a category 5 cyclone, Yasi, which struck on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, the inland town of Mount Isa has been put on notice to receive the storm at category 1. The state has seen severe flooding over the last few weeks which led to a nationwide call for assistance.
Over 150,000 Queenslanders are without power. Ergon Energy said in a bulletin:
- 154,300 Ergon Energy customers in North Queensland are without power and this number could rise as the full extent of the damage is revealed in coming days.
- Around 50 percent of customers in the cyclone affected area are without electricity supply.
- The safety of the community and our field staff is paramount in these situations and Ergon Energy would urge people not to go anywhere near fallen powerlines as they may remain live.
- In addition to damage to the Ergon Energy network, there has also been damage to Powerlink Queensland’s electricity transmission network which is affecting electricity supply to the coastal communities of Mission Beach, Cardwell, Tully and Ingham, and surrounds.
Powerlink Queensland supplies high voltage electricity to Ergon Energy, who have been prioritising the restoration of electricity supplies for hospitals and sewage works.
Cyclone Yasi has now weakened into a tropical depression although damaging winds and isolated thunderstorms are still possible. The latest details from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology at 10pm EST are as follows:
- Centre located near…… 20.8 degrees South 140.0 degrees East
- Location accuracy…….. within 75 kilometres
- Recent movement………. towards the west southwest at 32 kilometres per hour
- Wind gusts near centre… 85 kilometres per hour
- Severity category…….. below cyclone intensity
- Central pressure……… 991 hectoPascals
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has established a Joint Task Force (JTF) for Operation YASI ASSIST in support of Emergency Management Queensland. JTF664 was established on Wednesday, under the command of Brigadier Stuart Smith, Commander of the Townsville based 3rd Brigade.
The troops have been assisting by transferring 173 patients from hospitals in Cairns to Brisbane overnight onboard two Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules and two C-17 Globemasters. Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Mark Binskin praised the Royal Australian Air Force personnel for working through the night after scrambling from RAAF base Amberley. Soldiers have also moved emergency rations from Townsville to Cairns for use in evacuation centres, and transported nearly 50 elderly Townsville nursing home residents.