A powerful cyclone has slammed into northeastern Australia, with wind gusts up of to 280 kilometers per hour, and a storm surge up to two meters high.

Tropical Cyclone Larry was upgraded to the top category five today Monday, shortly before it hit land near Innisfail in the far north of Queensland state, about 100 kilometers south of Cairns.

A police spokeswoman said the storm had ripped the roofs off buildings and sent trees crashing across roads. She said police have been unable to leave the station, despite hundreds of calls for help.

Thousands of local residents evacuated their homes Saturday and state authorities say evacuations could be made mandatory if necessary.

Officials warn Larry could be the most devastating storm to reach Queensland in decades.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.