A large area of northern Australia is preparing for what could be one the of the biggest cyclones ever to hit the country. Cyclone Yasi is 500km wide and bearing down on the state of Queensland, which has already suffered from devastating floods.
The state premier, Anna Bligh, has described it as a "monster, killer storm" and she predicted deadly surges inland.
It is likely to cross the coast sometime late on Wednesday local time - and could hit anywhere along a 400-mile stretch between Cairns and Bowen.
It already is a Category 3 cyclone, and is likely to intensify to a Category 4, with gusts of wind expected to reach 160mph, Sky News reports.
In Cairns, thousands of properties are predicted to be at risk from a storm surge associated with the fierce cyclone. Residents in low-lying regions have been told to leave.
State disaster co-ordinator Ian Stewart today encouraged people to get as far south as Mackay if they could, with that city expected to experience conditions like a category-one storm.
Staff at the Caltex service station at Bowen, which fronts onto the Bruce Highway, said business had been was "pretty hectic" in the early afternoon today, but it had quietened down tonight.
"There have been a fair few coming through today," an attendant said. "It has been a busy morning. There's been a lot traffic heading through," according to Brisbane Times.
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