This Sunday satellite image released by NASA shows Tropical Cyclone Seroja hitting the coast of Western Australia. EOSDIS/AP
A destructive cyclone damaged several towns on Australia's western coast, emergency services said on Monday.
Cyclone Seroja struck part of the country that rarely experiences tropical storms shattered windows, snapping trees and knocking out power.
The storm, which devastated parts of Indonesia and East Timor last week, brought lashing rain and winds of up to 170 kilometres per hour (105 mph) to areas officials said had not seen a tropical Cyclone in "decades".
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Around 70% of buildings in Kalbarri, a town of 1,400 people 580 kilometers (360 miles) north of the state capital Perth, had been damaged, Department of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said. About 30% of that damage was "significant,” Klemm said, according to The Associated Press.
Local media images showed homes with their roofs ripped off and debris scattered across streets.
In Northampton, a town of less than 1,000 people about an hour's drive south, there was also "widespread damage", Western Australia's emergency services department said.
"Crews are still assessing the damage and it is not currently safe to go outside because of hazards," a spokeswoman told AFP.
Other coastal towns sustained less damage. Government utility Western Power reported 31,500 customers had lost power. There have been no reports of serious injuries
Such powerful cyclones are rare in subtropical Australia.
The damage was worse in some parts of Kalbarri than others, but the whole town had been impacted, local State Emergency Service manager Steve Cable said.
Powerlines and trees were toppled, homes lost roofs and streets were strewn with debris.
"Some of the older buildings didn’t stand up very well. But even some of the modern buildings, they just couldn’t hold it,” Cable told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
"Large trees with quite substantial limbs just snapped off like carrots,” he added.
Debbie Major weathered the storm in a room of a Kalbarri tourist trailer park that she manages, clutching a door to prevent it blowing open as broken tree limbs shattered windows.
"I’ve never experienced anything in my life that we experienced last night,” Major said. ”It was terrifying.”
Cyclone Seroja lost power and was downgraded to a tropical low before blowing out to sea near Esperance on Monday.The same cyclone caused flooding and landslides that killed at least 174 people and left 48 missing in Indonesia and East Timor last week.
Officials asked residents in the town of Denham, Shark Bay, 500 kilometres (311 miles) north of Perth to evacuate while sandbags were being made available to residents of Geraldton, further down the coast, due to potential storm surge.
Emergency services ordered people living in low-lying areas on the city's north-western fringes to flee to safety, as authorities warned of a potentially "life-threatening" situation in New South Wales state.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament that 35 communities in northern New South Wales had been isolated and emergency services had conducted more than 700 flood rescues.
No deaths were reported, but thousands of people have been rescued by emergency services in recent days. Authorities have ordered about 22,000 people to be ready to flee their homes, potentially joining around 18,400 people who have already been evacuated.
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