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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 March 2006, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Cyclone Glenda lashes Australia
In this Satellite image Cyclone Glenda is pictured on March 30, 2006 as it approaches the Australian state of Western Australia.
Glenda could be as destructive as Larry, which hit two weeks ago
A major cyclone is crossing Australia's remote north-west coastal region as thousands of residents ride it out.

The shore was lashed by 235 km/h (145 mph) winds as the storm moved in from the Indian Ocean, authorities said.

Onslow, a fishing town of more than 800 people in the Pilbara region, was said to have been worst-hit as it was caught in the direct path of Cyclone Glenda.

Australia's north-east is still recovering from Cyclone Larry, which hit the area two weeks ago.

It was really, really creepy - before it was hammering down and we had winds gusting in... Now it's absolutely dead still
Onslow resident

That storm, which made landfall in the state of Queensland, caused no fatalities but left a damage bill which is expected to top A$1bn ($707m, 405m).

The Pilbara region, which is on red alert, is home to more than 12,000 people. Hundreds of residents fled the area or took shelter in local rescue centres.

Authorities said the Category Four cyclone, one below the maximum grade, stalled briefly as it crossed the coastline but was expected to continue south.

"Residents of Onslow are warned that very destructive winds will soon resume without warning from a different direction," Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said.

There were no immediate reports of damage from Onslow.

"It's not a nice thing to go through but people seem to grin and bear it, get it together in these times," local resident Colin Walker said.

"Once it's all over we'll go back in and assess the situation and if everything is safe we'll go back to work."

Tides and floods

Cyclone Glenda made landfall at about 1600 (0800 GMT) and authorities said their main concern was flooding caused by torrential rain and a sea surge of up to 10m (33 feet).

In February 1995, seven fishermen died when two trawlers sank off Onslow as a cyclone of similar strength passed close by.

Pilbara, Australia's main iron ore producing region and site of major oil and natural gas reserves, lies in what is known as "cyclone alley" because of the frequency of major storms.

Global mining giant Rio Tinto halted its huge iron ore shipping operation in the region ahead of Glenda's arrival and closed port operations.

Oil firms also moved their floating rigs out of the path of the cyclone.

See the damage wrought as Cyclone Glenda strikes

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