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Last Updated: Wednesday February 02 2011 14:56 GMT

In pics: Australia prepares for its worst storm

Someone walking along the waterfront in Cairns as the storm clouds gather

One of the worst storms ever to hit Australia is hitting the north eastern state of Queensland.

A satellite image showing Cyclone Yasi approaching the coast of Queensland

Cyclone Yasi has been branded as a category five storm, which is the most severe level there is.

A satellite image showing Cyclone Yasi approaching the coast of Queensland

Winds of up to 190mph and seven-metre-high waves are expected to slam into the coast between the northern city of Cairns and the rural town of Innisfail, 60 miles south.

People packing into a shopping mall which is being used as an evacuation shelter in Cairns

Thousands of people have left their homes and headed to temporary evacuation centres that have been set up in shopping malls and town halls.

A woman with her dog, Scruffy, at an evacuation centre in Innifail

State Premier Anna Bligh warned residents that Yasi could be "the most catastrophic storm to ever hit our coast".

A cafe with taped windows and sandbags at the front door to try to protect it from waves that are expected to reach seven metres high

Residents and business owners have been taping up windows and using sandbags to try to protect their properties.

An aerial view of some of the flooding in Brisbane, Queensland, in January

The cyclone comes just weeks after the worst floods in Queensland's history, which were triggered by a series of tropical storms.