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Thousands flee as cyclone hits Queensland coast

2 February 2011 Last updated at 19:01 GMT

Fierce winds and driving rain brought by the most powerful storm ever to hit Queensland are lashing northern coastal areas of the Australian state.

With winds reaching up to 290km/h (181mph), Cyclone Yasi is ripping roofs off buildings and has cut power to at least 100,000 people.

The storm struck south of Cairns and is moving inland, with forecasters warning of severe damage and likely deaths.

Authorities in Queensland have warned of devastation on an unprecedented scale.

Nick Bryant reports.