Thousands flee as Cyclone Debbie bears down on Australia

Thousands flee as Cyclone Debbie bears down on AustraliaBy Tom Westbrook SYDNEY (Reuters) – Thousands of Australians abandoned their homes as a powerful cyclone bore down on coastal towns in Queensland on Monday, while others ignored authorities’ advice to evacuate with winds forecast to reach up to 300 km per hour (185 mph). Cyclone Debbie is forecast to strengthen to a Category four storm before it makes landfall in the northeast state early on Tuesday, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said. State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned it would be the most powerful storm to hit the country since Cyclone Yasi in 2011, which destroyed homes, shredded crops and devastated island resorts.



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