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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 02:39 GMT
Cyclone weakens over Queensland
Cyclone Ingrid, 8 March
Queensland residents have been preparing for the worst
Cyclone Ingrid has weakened as it crossed Australia's north-east coast with winds of up to 170km/h (105mph).

Cyclone Ingrid hit parts of northern Queensland at about 0500 Thursday (1900 GMT Wednesday) and continued west.

It has been downgraded from a category five storm, the most powerful, to a category three.

Nonetheless meteorologists warned that "very heavy rain and localised flood can be expected to develop over northern Cape York".

The Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre in Brisbane warned that Ingrid could gather strength as it blew over the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Ingrid had earlier been compared to Cyclone Tracy, which devastated the northern city of Darwin on Christmas Day 1974.

Meteorologists had advised residents to be prepared to evacuate if necessary.

Several hundred residents were evacuated overnight from coastal areas deemed vulnerable.

Some people, including several Aboriginal communities, have moved into temporary shelters elsewhere.

"There have been no forced evacuations and some people have moved voluntarily because they see themselves at risk," disaster co-ordinator Michael Keating told ABC radio.

"They were fairly well prepared and had been evacuated... everyone has sort of escaped it okay," said Cathy Muller of the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre.

Some residents seemed unimpressed by the force of the weather.

"We're all sitting around waiting for... trees flying through the air and stuff and it is quite tame," a Cape York resident told ABC.

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