Australians Flee as Monster Cyclone Bears Down

Cyclone Yasi set to pummel beleaguered Queensland with force of Katrina
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2011 10:32 AM CST
Emergency workers and Australian Air Force personnel load patients from local hospitals onto an evacuation flight in Cairns, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011, in an effort to flee a monster storm bearing down on...   (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
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(Newser) – After weeks of flooding earlier this year, Aussies are now fleeing the northeast coast by the thousands as a Katrina-strength cyclone bears down. "This storm is huge and life-threatening," says Queensland's premier. Cyclone Yasi, currently a category four storm, is being fed by a monsoon, and could pummel Queensland with 175mph winds when it hits tomorrow—potentially plowing 600 miles inland to hit mining towns that were devastated by flooding, Reuters reports.

Depending on the height of the tide, the storm's effects could be the most destructive the area has ever seen. "There's no time for complacency," says one mayor who called for constituents to get out of low-lying areas. "It's crazy in the shops," says one clerk. "People are nearly killing themselves to get food and water before this thing hits."

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