Terror, Ruin but No Deaths in Australia Cyclone

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The most powerful cyclone in more than a century ripped across Australia's northeast coast early Thursday.

Cyclone Yasi lashed the northern Queensland coast with winds of up to 170 miles per hour, causing tidal waves and swamping coastal areas.

Dozens of cities and towns that comprise the tourist gateway to the Great Barrier Reef were battered by heavy rain.

The storm tore the tops off hundreds of homes and buildings and downed trees and power lines. Nearly 200,000 people have been left without electricity.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said several thousand people would be temporarily homeless, and Red Cross Australia and local governments were registering people in need and finding places to house them.

The powerful cyclone also caused significant damage to sugar and banana crops.

"Terrible, terrible. Never seen anything like it in my life. I was in the other one that was here and that was nothing compared to this one," said Olga Criton, a Tully resident.

Authorities have expressed their relief that no one was killed during the storm. Officials said lives were spared because, after days of increasingly dire warnings, people followed instructions to flee to evacuation centers or bunker themselves at home in dozens of cities and towns in Yasi's path.

The cyclone is the latest natural disaster to hit Queensland. Thirty-five people were killed during recent heavy rains and flash flooding in the region.

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