April 19, 2006

Second cyclone hits Australia’s northeast coast

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A tropical cyclone with winds of up to
200 kph (125 mph) crossed Australia's remote northeast coast on
Wednesday, officials said, the second cyclone to hit northern
Queensland in a month.

There were no early reports of damage in the area, where
there are few major settlements or infrastructure.

Residents had been warned to take shelter as Tropical
Cyclone Monica, a mid-range category-three storm, closed in on
Lockhart River, an Aboriginal community of about 600 people in
Queensland state's sparsely populated Cape York Peninsula.

The cyclone began crossing the coast just south of Lockhart
River, about 2,000 km (1,200 miles) north of the Queensland
capital Brisbane, soon after 2 p.m. local time (0400 GMT),
meteorologists said.

"It will take a couple of hours to cross the coast. It
should weaken slightly as it moves across Cape York Peninsula,"
Queensland Weather Bureau meteorologist Manfred Greitschus told
Sky television.

"It still could produce destructive winds for crops or
vegetation and weaker shelters."

Cyclone Monica was much weaker than maximum category-five
Cyclone Larry, which caused at least A$250 million ($185
million) in damage when it hit near Innisfail, well south of
Lockhart River, last month, smashing houses and destroying
banana crops.

($1 = A$1.35)