Australia hit by Tropical Cyclone Rusty

Satellite image showing Cyclone Rusty near the Pilbara region of western Australia Tropical Cyclone Rusty is making its presence felt in Western Australia

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Tropical Cyclone Rusty has hit the coast of Western Australia, bringing with it pouring rain and strong winds.

Rusty had been forecast to make landfall in the Pilbara region's Port Hedland iron ore port, but instead touched down in nearby Pardoo town.

The storm has been downgraded from category four cyclone, one notch short of the top category, to category three.

It is bringing gusts of up to 165km/h (103mph), said Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).

"It looks as if Hedland has dodged the bullet, so to speak, because the worst of the winds are away from Hedland," Neil Bennett of the BoM told AFP early on Wednesday.

"Hedland though has been experiencing a constant period of gale-force winds for over 36 hours now," he said, adding that this was unprecedented for the area.

The cyclone had veered away from Port Hedland, 800 miles (1,287km) north of the city of Perth, and landed in the tiny community of Pardoo 120km to the north-east at 5pm (09:00 GMT).

Severe Tropical Cyclone Rusty makes landfall in Western Australia with damaging winds and flooding rain. Nick Miller looks at where it's heading next.

Australia's Department of Fire and Emergency Services had issued a red alert for Pardoo and nearby Whim Creek.

Ian Badger, a Pardoo resident, said that the winds were coming in strong.

"I've got some leaking in the roof and I've got water coming in through. As long as the building holds together I'll be alright," he told ABC News.

But he said that the amount of water was "worrying".

"The ground is very sodden, very soft. As soon as you get a get a bit of strong wind, trees start going over."

Port Hedland had closed three main iron ore ports in the Pilbara region, the world's largest source of iron ore, as the cyclone approached. Schools were also closed.

Port Hedland Deputy Mayor George Daccache told the Australian Associated Press (AAP) news agency that the winds and rain had been "relentless for the past two or three days".

Bureau of Meteorology spokesman Mike Bergin said that they are still expecting "a very significant storm surge" in the Pardoo area.

People in Port Hedland have been stocking up on essentials following warnings to take shelter. Other low-lying areas have also been evacuated.

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