SYDNEY - Local residents and tourists in the north-east coast of Australia were being evacuated on Tuesday before the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Yasi, who authorities said could be one of the worst in recent years.
Yasi, with winds expected to reach 250 km / hour, is expected during the night between Wednesday and Thursday on the northern coast of the country, who just recovered from massive flooding.
"This hurricane is huge and dangerous," warned Prime Minister of that State, Anna Bligh. "It can cause death and we must take the threat seriously."
"If you live in or near coastal plain in the danger zone, you must go elsewhere for you and your family to safety," said Ms Bligh.
Residents living in the most vulnerable parts of the coast were ordered to evacuate their homes. Some 9,000 people are expected to leave the vicinity of Cairns in the coming hours.
The city hospital was about to be evacuated by military aircraft over 250 of his patients.
Yasi is currently above the Coral Sea off northeastern Australia. It should make landfall between Cairns, 122,000 inhabitants, and Innisfail, a town of about 10,000 inhabitants located a hundred km south of Cairns.
But its winds and rains will be felt hundreds of miles, meteorologists have warned, that estimate the length of the "front" some 650 km.
Southern Queensland, which was the region most affected by floods in late 2010 and early 2011, however, should escape the cyclone, which deflects the path northward.
Meteorologists estimate that the force could reach Yasi four on a scale that has five, and surpass in intensity and size of Larry, the last major hurricane to have devastated the north-east in 2006.
"He continues to gain in intensity," said meteorologist Ann Farrell. Tuesday afternoon (local time), Yasi was 1,000 km east of Cairns and was close to the speed of 35km/heure.
The airlines have implemented additional services to evacuate those who wished, before the closure of airports, to be held probably on Wednesday morning.