Cyclone Marcia: Catagory 5 storm rips off roofs, uproots trees and damages power lines within hours of Cyclone Lam hitting

Thousands of residents were evacuated in Queensland

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The Independent Online

Parts of northern Australia were battered by powerful twin cyclones which hit within hours of each other overnight, tearing off roofs, damaging homes and uprooting trees.

Cyclone Lam hit a sparsely populated stretch of the Northern Territory, while the more powerful and potentially dangerous Cyclone Marcia crossed over small towns along the east coast of Queensland state.

Thousands of residents living in Cyclone Marcia’s path were quickly evacuated, while those who stayed were told to barricade themselves inside their homes.

Marcia, a category 5 cyclone which has since been downgraded, whipped up wind gusts of up to 180mph. More than 48,000 homes in Queensland were left without power.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Queenslanders were facing a “harrowing and terrifying experience”, warning them: “This is a severe cyclone. I want everyone to take all the precautions that they possibly can take."

One hundred schools were closed and residents in low-lying areas were told to evacuate their homes.

Queensland police commissioner Ian Stewart also urged residents to take the cyclone seriously. "This is going to be a calamity, there's absolutely no doubt about that," he said.

Yeppoon resident John McGrath waited out the storm with his family in their house just 100 yards from a beach. He told the Associated Press the walls of his own house were rattling, water was beginning to seep through his windows and the ocean's swells were growing enormous.

Brisbane was initially expected to witness the worst of the storm until the cyclone changed its path slightly, sparing it from the most ferocious gusts.

Cyclone Lam tore down trees and power lines in its path but did not cause any major damage. By evening, Lam had been downgraded to a tropical low but continued to dump heavy rain across the north as it moved southwest. There have been no reports of injuries so far.

Additional reporting by agencies