Cyclone Debbie hits Australia

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By James Edgar  with Agency
Cyclone Debbie hits Australia

Thousands of Australians have been fleeing their homes as a powerful storm heads towards the state of Queensland.

Cyclone Debbie is expected to be classed as a Category Four storm, just one rung below the highest grade.

Some 30,000 people have been told to evacuate low lying areas most at risk from tidal surges and winds of up to 300km per hour (185mph).

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: “For those in the path of Cyclone Debbie, please take care and stay safe.

“If you have received an official evacuation order, you and your family must leave home immediately. Seek shelter with family or friends who are inland or on higher ground.

“If you decide to shelter at home, make sure you are prepared, have your emergency kit ready and listen to the radio for cyclone updates.

“Check on your neighbours and vulnerable friends and family and help them get to an evacuation centre.”

Experts are warning Debbie will be the most powerful storm to hit the state since Cyclone Yasi destroyed homes, crops and holiday resorts in 2011.

Debbie is expected to gather strength before making landfall on Tuesday.