Cyclone hits Aussie resort coast

SIDNEY: A tropical cyclone smashed into Australia’s northeast coast today, bringing winds of up to 200 kilometres an hour which downed trees and ripped air-conditioning units from walls. Cyclone Ului made landfall near Queensland’s Whitsunday islands, a popular tourist destination on the Great Barrier Reef, damaging buildings, washing yachts ashore and cutting power to thousands of homes, officials said. But there were no reports of deaths or serious injuries from the severe storm, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said.

“We are characterising it as a significant event with severe damage in some pockets, but not a catastrophic event,” she said.

Officials were assessing the impact that Ului, which was downgraded after making landfall near the tourist town of Airlie Beach, had had on the region. The Bureau of Meteorology said the storm, was now below cyclone strength after weakening rapidly after hitting land.