Queensland storm: Tornadoes and huge hailstones wreak damage

Image source, STEVEN HARLAND
Image caption, Locals posted images online showing injured and distressed animals

Tornadoes and a thunderstorm "supercell" have swept across Queensland in Australia, injuring four people and causing widespread damage.

The dangerous weather system hit the state's south-east on Thursday, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said.

One tornado struck Tansey, a town 250km (155 miles) north of Brisbane, snapping trees and ripping roofs from houses.

Elsewhere, four people were injured when tennis ball-sized hail shattered car windscreens, authorities said.

One, Fiona Simpson, posted images online of bruises and scrapes across her body.

"I covered my infant with my body to stop her from getting badly injured.... never drive in a hail storm," she wrote of the incident in the town of Kingaroy.

Image source, FIONA SIMPSON
Image caption, Fiona Simpson suffered injuries while shielding her baby

The nation's strongest tornadoes form during supercells - a type of storm that is also frequently accompanied by damaging hail.

But Australia's funnels are typically smaller and weaker than in the US, University of Queensland geographer Prof Hamish McGowan told The Australian.

Image source, FIONA SIMPSON
Image caption, Ms Simpson says injuries cover her head, back and shoulders

On Thursday, large hailstones and winds gusting up to 98km/h (60mph) caused extensive damage to buildings and crops. Social media users also reported injuries to animals.

Local man Steven Harland described the storm as "pretty intense", telling the BBC he had seen "flash flooding, countless trees down, and damage to vehicles from the hail".

"It's just a reminder what Mother Nature can do in such a short period of time," he said.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption, Large hailstones often accompany supercell storms, meteorologists say

Authorities said they had fielded more than 300 calls for help, including for a driver trapped by a fallen tree.

Almost 10,000 properties remained without power on Friday, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.