Parts of Western Australia’s Pilbara region have remained on lockdown through the night as Cyclone Christine passes between Karratha and Port Hedland.
Authorities issued a Red Alert for the iron ore towns of Port Hedland, Australia’s highest tonnage port, and Karratha late last night, and the warning remained in place as of 7.20am AEST (4.20am WST) this morning.
The WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services warned of a “threat to lives and homes” along the iron ore coast, between the areas of De Grey and Mardie and extending inland to Tom Price and Paraburdoo.
Residents have been asked to stay indoors and be ready to move to the strongest, safest part of their homes. Authorities have also established evacuation centres in Port Hedland, Karratha, Marble Bar, Tom Price and Paraburdoo.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the category 3 Cyclone Christine was about 100 kilometres south-southeast of Karratha and 190 kilometres north-northwest of Paraburdoo as of 8am AEST, and moving south-southwest at 17 km/h.
“Christine has been moving to the south over the last three hours and is expected to take a more south southeasterly track during the next six hours,” the bureau reported.
“Very destructive winds with gusts in excess of 160 km/h are possible near the centre over the next few hours. Destructive winds with gusts in excess of 130 km/h are expected to extend well inland during Tuesday.”
The bureau has also issued flood warnings have been issued for the Pilbara region and warned that 100 km/h winds “should extend into the eastern Gascoyne, far western Interior and the northern Goldfields before the cyclone weakens late Tuesday or early Wednesday.”
Most of Australia’s iron ore exports were halted on Sunday in anticipation of the cyclone, with shipping vessels evacuated from Port Hedland early Sunday morning.
BHP, Fortescue Metals, Atlas Iron and Woodside Petroleum operate in the region.
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