Cyclone Yasi is a Category 5 storm now hitting hundreds of kilometres of Northern Queensland coastline. The world famous resort of Cairns is expected to suffer incredible damage tonight by winds reaching 300kmh and a storm surge higher than 4 metres.
Dozens more coastal towns will be swamped by wave surges not seen in generations. The full extent of the damage to tens of thousands of homes and businesses along hundreds of kilometres of Queensland coast is impossible to estimate, but 4000 pre-deployed Australian soldiers in Townsville (also expected to be hit by Cyclone Yasi) have been told to expect the worst.
Many of the evacuation centres now filled with thousands of peoples are not rated for a Category 5 cyclone.
The Queensland premier, Anna Bligh, and the prime minister, Julia Gillard, have both announced it is too late for people to get out. They are being told to stay in their homes, to shelter in bathrooms or basements, failing that, to take shelter anywhere, and too prepare for days without power and water.
Satellite images from yesterday of Cylone Yasi's arrival :
QLD premier Anna Bligh, 4:12pm :
"No-one should be leaving home now, that time has passed. You should be sheltering wherever you are."2000 people are now taking shelter in a shopping mall in Cairns central business district, in the path of the cyclone. Evacuees are telling ABCNews24 the shopping centre is "full".
This is going to be apocalyptic.
ABC News Online is running near constant updates & important information here.
The State Emergency Service number is : 132 500
You can follow Queensland police services on Twitter : @QPSMedia
Or follow the Twitter hashtag : #TCYasi.
More to come...