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Learning English - Words in the News
20 March, 2006 - Published 11:56 GMT
Cyclone hits Australian coast
Destruction caused by cyclone
Destruction caused by cyclone

Parts of north-eastern Australia have been devastated by a category five tropical storm. Cyclone Larry has destroyed hundreds of homes. The worst affected area was around the town of Innisfail, south of Cairns, which was hit by winds that reached 290 kilometres per hour. Phil Mercer reports.

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Larry's fury has been immense. The cyclone tore across the north Queensland coast and has left much of Innisfail in ruins. Emergency workers have said that half of the houses in the farming town have been badly damaged. Many residents are homeless and have sought shelter at a camp set up by the army at the local airport.

The main street is littered with corregated iron roofs and other debris. The storm also laid waste to entire banana and sugar-cane plantations. There are reports that parts of the Great Barrier Reef have been destroyed.

Cyclone Larry has now weakened, but it could take years for this part of tropical Australia to recover. The government has said it will do all it can to help. It has authorised emergency payments for the victims of the most powerful cyclone this country has seen in years. The prime minister, John Howard, will visit the stricken region later this week.

Weather forecasters have said that the storm was similar in size to Cyclone Tracy, which killed dozens of people in the Australian city of Darwin in 1974.

Phil Mercer, BBC News, Melbourne

Listen to the words

great power

very strong

cyclone tore across
very violent wind travelled over

has left much of Innisfail in ruins
has destroyed a lot of the town

looked for

covered with waste

broken or torn pieces of things

laid waste to

banana and sugar-cane plantations
areas of land where bananas and sugar are grown

stricken region
area which was hit by the cyclone

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