Cyclone Ita: Queensland surveys storm damage

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Media caption"One of our dear old pubs has had its roof lifted off," Peter Scott, Mayor of Cooktown explained

Residents in northern Queensland are surveying the damage after Cyclone Ita brought winds of up to 230km/h (140mph) to north-eastern Australia.

Some communities have been left without power, with damage to some buildings, but no casualties have been reported.

The cyclone made landfall at Cape Flattery but weakened as it travelled inland, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said.

It is the strongest storm to hit since Cyclone Yasi, which struck in 2011.

Previously classed as a category-five storm, Ita was later downgraded by the BOM to category one.

Tens of thousands of people hunkered down overnight amid warnings of severe gales, flash flooding and storm tides.

Damage assessment

Officials say power lines and phones were knocked out by the cyclone, but there were no reports of major destruction to infrastructure.

"I am greatly relieved that at this time we've had no reports of either death or injury," Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said, quoted by Reuters news agency.

He warned residents to remain inside their homes or shelters because of potential further destruction on Saturday, with wind gust up to 120km/h (74mph) and heavy rain forecast.

In Cooktown, where some 300 residents spent the night in an evacuation centre, officials said the roofs of at least two homes were ripped off and a pub was damaged in the strong winds.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Despite uprooted trees and damage to roofs, no major incidents have been reported as a result of the cyclone
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Brave onlookers took the beach in Port Douglas on Saturday to watch large waves formed by strong winds
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dark clouds could be seen overhead at Port Douglas on Friday as the cyclone closed in
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Residents took precautions ahead of the cyclone to secure large items and tape down windows

"There's a lot of vegetation on the road and we've unfortunately seen some buildings damaged...but there hasn't been a lot of structural damage," Cooktown Mayor Peter Scott told the Associated Press news agency.

Australia's weather bureau has warned of wind gusts of up to 120km/h (74mph) as the cyclone moves south of Cooktown to Port Douglas, ABC reports.

BOM's Ken Kato was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying he expected the cyclone to head out "into the Coral Sea somewhere off the north tropical coast" during the day.

But, he adds, "it's still packing a fair punch".

Residents in the path of the cyclone have been urged to "stay calm and remain in a secure shelter".

A cyclone warning is in place for coastal areas from Cooktown to Innisfail, including Port Douglas and Cairns and a number of inland areas.

Cyclone Ita brought torrential rain to the Solomon Islands late last week, causing flash floods that left at least 21 people dead.

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