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Cyclone Debbie: Emergency services prepare for worst as storm intensifies

ABC News logo ABC News 26/03/2017
Bowen turned purple at dusk last night where it is very humid ahead of Tropical Cyclone Debbie. © ABC News: Josh Bavas Bowen turned purple at dusk last night where it is very humid ahead of Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

Evacuation orders are in place for coastal communities directly in the firing line from TC Debbie, with residents in several Burdekin Shire communities told to leave by 10am this morning.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has warned the cyclone will be the worst to hit Queensland since Yasi in 2011, due to the area it will impact.

At 2:00am on Monday, Debbie was 405 kilometres east-north-east of Townsville and 300km north-east of Bowen, moving west-south-west at 6km per hour.

Debbie is expected to cross the coast early tomorrow morning as a category four system, but could further intensify to category five.

Townsville Hospital and Health Service has activated its emergency management plan and has postponed all elective surgery scheduled for today and tomorrow as Cyclone Debbie moves closer to the Queensland coastline.

A hospital spokesperson said this was to ensure they had capacity to deal with the cyclone's impact.

Townsville Airport has cancelled many Jetstar, Virgin and Qantas flights arriving and departing today, advising travellers to check their flight's status with the relevant airline.

Qantas also suspended flights to and from Hamilton Island and Mackay.

Virgin Australia released a statement saying it had cancelled flights to or from Hamilton Island, Mackay or Proserpine and some flights to or from Townsville today, and several of tomorrow's flights in or out of Townsville and Mackay were also cancelled.

Schools from Ayr to Proserpine are closed today.

South of Townsville, Whitsunday Disaster Management Group yesterday issued a Watch and Act order for a police-directed evacuation of coastal communities from Cape Upstart, north of Bowen, to Lethebrook, south of Proserpine.

Evacuations have been ordered in coastal towns and communities of the Whitsundays in north Queensland © MSN Weather Evacuations have been ordered in coastal towns and communities of the Whitsundays in north Queensland

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