Most Bhutanese living in Cairns have been evacuated to evacuation centres amidst the fear of approaching cyclone Yasi.
This Category 5 cyclone, worst one that Queensland, Australia faced since 1918, is expected to hit Townsville and other surrounding areas including areas where Bhutanese are residing, by 10 pm local time until Thursday morning. Cairns is at a distance of 348 km from Townville. Due to disturbances, connection with people living in evacuation centres is not good.
Over 10,000 people living in lowlands have been evacuated to five evacuation centres since early morning today. Schools, shopping centres, universities have been turned into evacuation centres.
News7 channel is showing footages of windy and rainy Townsville at around 5 pm local time indicating the cyclone has already started coming.
According to NASA, Yasi has wind speed of around 295 km per hour. A Cyclone Warning is now in effect for Queensland, Australia for coastal areas from Cape Melville to Sarina, extending inland to east of Croydon to Hughenden. Cyclone Yasi is a powerful and dangerous storm and is generating waves up to 38 feet (11.5 meters) in the Coral Sea.
A warning issued by Bureau of Meteorology (Australia) says:
A cyclone warning is current for coastal and island communities from Cape Flattery to Sarina, extending inland to Julia Creek and to the area west of Croydon.
A Cyclone watch is current for the remaining inland parts west to the Northern Territory border and north of Winton.
At 4:00pm EST Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi, Category 5 was estimated to be 250 kilometres east of Cairns and 275 kilometres north north-east of Townsville and moving west south-west at 35 kilometres per hour.
According to Pralhad Dahal, a Bhutanese living in Cairns, few Bhutanese who have houses at highlands, are living in their own houses as government advised to do so. “It is the dangerous cyclone as announced through radio. So we all are praying for the safety of our fellow citizens and those who are in Queensland,” says Dahal. There are around 200 Bhutanese living in Cairns.
Parsuram Sharma Luitel from Melbourne informed Bhutan News Service that most of the Bhutanese were moved to evacuation centre leaving their home. “Everyone is safe and sound. We need not worry,” he said over phone, “The government authorities in consultation with Bhutanese there are making sure every Bhutanese is evacuated to the safe place.”
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a press conference in Brisbane this afternoon, said the government and people of Australia will do whatever is possible to help people affected by the cyclone.
Reported by Indra Adhikari from Adelaide for BNS