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Tornadoes and hail damage Australian towns

BBC News logo BBC News 10/12/2018

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Video by Reuters

Tornadoes and a thunderstorm "supercell" have swept across Queensland in Australia, injuring four people and causing widespread damage.

The dangerous weather system hit the state's south-east on Thursday, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said.

One tornado struck Tansey, a town 250km (155 miles) north of Brisbane, snapping trees and ripping roofs from houses.

Elsewhere, four people were injured when tennis ball-sized hail shattered car windscreens, authorities said.

One, Fiona Simpson, posted images online of bruises and scrapes across her body.

"I covered my infant with my body to stop her from getting badly injured.... never drive in a hail storm," she wrote of the incident in the town of Kingaroy.

A person holds hailstones during a hailstorm in Gympie, Queensland, Australia October 11, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. @ambrosiaindiangympie/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. - RC17214E27D0 © @ambrosiaindiangympie via Reuters A person holds hailstones during a hailstorm in Gympie, Queensland, Australia October 11, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. @ambrosiaindiangympie/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. - RC17214E27D0 Tornadoes are not unusual in Australia but often escape public attention because they mostly occur in remote areas, according to the BOM.

The nation's strongest tornadoes form during supercells - a type of storm that is also frequently accompanied by damaging hail.

But Australia's funnels are typically smaller and weaker than in the US, University of Queensland geographer Prof Hamish McGowan told The Australian.

On Thursday, large hailstones and winds gusting up to 98km/h (60mph) caused extensive damage to buildings and crops. Social media users also reported injuries to animals.

Local man Steven Harland described the storm as "pretty intense", telling the BBC he had seen "flash flooding, countless trees down, and damage to vehicles from the hail".

"It's just a reminder what Mother Nature can do in such a short period of time," he said.

The storm also cut power to more than 1,300 properties, Australian Associated Press reported.

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