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Last Updated: Friday, 9 March 2007, 11:10 GMT
Cyclone batters western Australia
At least two people have been killed and about 20 injured, after a powerful cyclone hit north-west Australia.

Cyclone George packed winds of up to 280km/h (170 mph), damaging homes and disrupting power in the remote town of Port Hedland.

A local mining company closed its iron ore operations, and some offshore oil production was also suspended.

The area has been warned to prepare for another large storm. Cyclone Jacob is expected to hit early next week.

Cyclone George, which forecasters said may have been a maximum level five storm as it crossed the coast, hit a mine construction camp owned by Fortescue Metals Group, based about 100km (62 miles) south of Port Hedland.

It destroyed many temporary housing units at the camp, where workers were staying while building a railway.

An emergency team has been able to reach the camp and evacuate the injured, but the rescue attempt was hampered by continuing strong winds.

Emergency services officials confirmed that two people had died, but could not confirm earlier reports that a third person had also died.

Storm damage

The storm also tore off roofs, felled trees and cut power lines to at least three towns in the area, according to emergency officials.

"We had our patio start to lift, we had fences being pushed over, trees being snapped, everything flying around," Port Hedland resident Steve Fitzgibbon told a local radio programme.

Officials say Cyclone George is the worst storm to hit the region since Cyclone Vance in 1999.

Cyclones are a regular feature in northern Australia during the summer months.

Cyclone Tracy killed 65 people in the northern city of Darwin in 1974.

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