Powerful cyclone bears down on western Australia
SYDNEY (AFP) - A powerful cyclone packing expected winds of more than 200 kilometres an hour was threatening Australia's west coast on Monday, forcing towns into lockdown and shutting iron ore operations.
A red alert was issued for Port Hedland and South Hedland on Western Australia state's resource-rich but sparsely-populated Pilbara coast as the category three cyclone intensified offshore, forcing residents to batten down.
"This is a powerful system," Neil Bennett, a spokesman for the Cyclone Warning Centre in Perth told AFP, saying that winds were already building around Port Hedland to about 70km/h.
"Right around the eye (of the storm) we could see gusts of 200 kilometres or more."