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Tropical Storm Continues to Pound Australia


A library in the small community of Cardwell, Australia, is without a roof and badly damaged after Cyclone Yasi brought heavy rain and howling winds, February 4, 2011

A library in the small community of Cardwell, Australia, is without a roof and badly damaged after Cyclone Yasi brought heavy rain and howling winds, February 4, 2011

Cyclone Yasi, which pounded northeastern Australia Friday, moved south as a tropical depression Saturday, bringing downpours and flash floods to the Melbourne region.

The Bureau of Meteorology said more than 175 millimeters of rain fell in parts of Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, while powerful winds downed trees and power lines.

Queensland officials 2,000 kilometers to the north say the coastal communities of Cardwell, Tully and Mission Beach bore the full brunt of Cyclone Yasi, which made landfall early Thursday carrying winds as high as 300 kilometers an hour.

Authorities on Friday confirmed the first death from the storm. Two other people who were missing turned up safe. One damage assessment firm (EQECAT) said losses from the storm could total as much as $5 billion.

The storm tore the tops off hundreds of homes and buildings in the most affected areas, and downed trees and power lines, leaving nearly 200,000 residents without electricity. It also caused significant damage to Queensland's crucial sugar and banana crops.

Cyclone Yasi is the latest natural disaster to hit Queensland. Several weeks of heavy rains and flash flooding has killed 35 people and caused billions of dollars in damages.

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