Cyclone damages Australian town and cuts electricity to 31,500

Perth, Australia (AP) — A destructive cyclone damaged several towns on the west coast of Australia, shattered windows, broke trees, and lost power. There are no reports of serious injuries.

A tropical cyclone Seroha crossed the coast of Western Australia south of the tourist destination Kalbarri in a strong wind of 170 km / h (106 mph) shortly after a dark Sunday, officials said Monday.

About 70% of the buildings in Calvary, a town of 1,400 people 580 kilometers (360 miles) north of the state capital, Perth, were damaged, said Fire Department Secretary Darren Krem.

About 30% of the damage was “serious,” Krem said.

Other coastal towns were less damaged. The government utility Western Power reported that 31,500 customers had lost power.

Such powerful cyclones are rare in subtropical Australia.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement that the gusts recorded in Calvary and the surrounding area were likely “strongest in more than 50 years.”

The last equivalent cyclone in the area struck in 1956. It caused a gust of 140 kph (87 mph) in the port town of Geraldton, 160 km (100 miles) south of Calvary, where there was no meteorological station at the time.

Cyclone Seroha caused floods and landslides, killing at least 174 people and leaving 48 missing in Indonesia and East Timor last week.

The damage was worse in some areas of Calvary than in others, but the entire town was affected, said Steve Cable, a local state emergency services manager.

Power lines and trees fell, houses lost their roofs, and streets were littered with debris.

“Some of the old buildings didn’t stand up very well, but even some modern buildings couldn’t hold it,” Cable said.

“A big tree with pretty big limbs just broke like a carrot,” he added.

Debbie Major survived the storm in a room in her controlled Calvary Tourist Trailer Park and clasped the door to prevent it from being blown when broken wooden limbs shattered the window.

“What I experienced last night has never been in my life,” said Major. “That was horrifying.”

Cyclone Seroha lost power and was downgraded to a tropical cyclone before blowing into the waters near Esperance on Monday.