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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 January 2006, 03:54 GMT
Cyclone Clare hits NW Australia

Tropical cyclone Clare has hit north-western Australia, with fierce winds and heavy rains cutting power lines and communication networks.

The category 3 cyclone came ashore near the town of Dampier, north of Perth, at 0300 local time (1900 GMT on Monday).

Winds of up to 185km/h (115mph) battered coastal areas.

"So far there have been no reports of damage," said emergency services spokeswoman Kate Malkovic soon after the cyclone hit.

But officials report that many telephone lines in the region have failed and that most homes are without power.

Before the cyclone made landfall, officials issued a red alert for a number of communities in the region.

About 1,500 people abandoned their homes, and those that did not leave the area were encouraged to stay indoors.

Some of the region's oil rigs were also shut down as the cyclone approached, and ports in the area were closed as a precautionary measure.

Dampier and the nearby town of Karratha are home to several offshore oil and gas operations, as well as ports for the region's iron ore and nickel mines.

This isolated region experiences around half-a-dozen cyclones every year between November and April.

Cyclone weakens over Queensland
10 Mar 05 |  Asia-Pacific

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