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Strong cyclone hits western Australia

Published on Dec 31, 2013 11:26 AM

SYDNEY (AFP) - A powerful cyclone lashed Australia's resources-rich west coast on Tuesday, bringing torrential rains and destructive gales that ripped up trees and roofs and closed major global iron ore operations.

Tropical Cyclone Christine made landfall around midnight as a category three of five storm, packing winds in excess of 170 kilometres per hour and heavy rains that cut power to several towns, brought down trees and damaged homes.

Christine weakened to a category two heading inland, with destructive wind gusts of between 110-130 kilometres per hour.

But a red alert remained in place for towns in the storm's path including Port Hedland, Karratha and Dampier, home to BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto's flagship iron ore mining and port operations.

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