Queensland Cyclone Owen: Powerful system may ‘wreak havoc’

A car travels drives through heavy rain in AustraliaImage copyright

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Australia’s east coast has been pummelled by heavy rain in recent days

Australian authorities have issued a warning about a powerful cyclone that is tracking towards the coast of Queensland.

Cyclone Owen is moving slowly over waters off the Northern Territory with winds of up to 200km/h (124 mph), meteorologists said.

It is expected to intensify into a category four system before making landfall sometime early on Saturday local time (late on Friday GMT).

Residents have been urged to stay safe.

Forecasters predict the cyclone will travel from the Gulf of Carpentaria to Queensland’s east coast, bringing destructive winds inland for hundreds of kilometres.

“Owen will wreak havoc across our state and come down the east coast,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told the Seven network on Friday.

Parts of the state were likely to receive up to 400mm of rain in coming days, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said.

Authorities warned that flash-flooding and storm surges were also expected, urging residents to secure items and stay indoors.

The cyclone is forecast to be downgraded to a tropical storm as it moves inland, but could redevelop into a cyclone on Monday.

Last month, Queensland was hit by destructive bushfires which forced the evacuation of thousands of people.

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