Cyclone destroys homes, cuts power to 31,500 on Australia’s west coast

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One Mile Jetty is seen destroyed by tropical cyclone Seroja in Carnarvon, Australia April 11, 2021, in this still image taken from drone video footage obtained from social media by Reuters on April 12, 2021. Courtesy of Bill Kent/via REUTERS

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A tropical cyclone on Australia’s west coast destroyed several homes and cut electricity to tens of thousands of people overnight before weakening on Monday morning.

Officials said around 70% of the structures in the coastal town of Kalbarri, about 500 kilometres (310 miles) north of state capital Perth, had sustained damage when the category three storm made landfall late on Sunday.

“The devastation caused by Cyclone Seroja is widespread and severe,” Western Australia state premier Mark McGowan told reporters.

Around 40% of the damage was “major”, WA Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said.

No deaths or major injuries have been reported.

A recovery effort is now underway as the biggest threat has passed, McGowan said. There are 31,500 customers still without power supply, which he said could take days to restore.

Tropical cyclone Seroja was downgraded after making landfall to a category two system and was later downgraded further to a tropical low, but bringing heavy rain and strong winds.

Photos on social media and local broadcasts showed downed powerlines, debris and houses stripped of roofs and walls. Western Australia state authorities opened three evacuation centres for displaced residents.

The region was on high alert for the storm, given that houses and other buildings were not built to withstand tropical cyclones, which usually do not push so far south.

“This is a rare weather event for people in southern and eastern parts of WA,” the Bureau of Meteorology said.