Page last updated at 04:37 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Freak storm cuts power in Perth, Australia


Hailstones the size of golf balls hit the Western Australian city of Perth

A severe storm in the western Australian city of Perth has left tens of thousands of homes without power.

The cost of the damage is estimated at more than $100m (£66.5m).

The storm brought huge hailstones, torrential rains, flooding, landslides and wind gusts of more than 120km/hour (75 mph).

At Perth airport, where part of the terminal roof collapsed, almost a month's average rainfall fell in just seven minutes, affecting flights.

The freak storm hit Perth, one of the world's most isolated cities, late on Monday.

Map showing Australia, Perth and Canberra

Power cables collapsed, hospitals were flooded. Some schools remained closed on Tuesday.

"From my memory this would be the most severe weather conditions we've had since the famous May storm in 1994, where we had very, very strong winds and a massive loss of power supply," Western Australia premier Colin Barnett told public broadcaster ABC.

"Hopefully the damage to the power supply won't be as severe but I suspect this time we've got a lot more damage to buildings and housing," he said.

Hailstones the size of golf balls smashed car windscreens. Driving became more dangerous when traffic lights went out.

Weather forecasters said more stormy weather was expected, after one of the driest summers on record.

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