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Hundreds stranded in Australia as cyclone evacuations suspended

Canberra : Hundreds of residents of remote northern Australia have been left stranded after Tropical Cyclone Megan forced the suspension of evacuation efforts.

Tropical Cyclone Megan made landfall in the northeast of Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) on Monday afternoon as a category 3 storm, bringing with it wind speeds of up to 200 km per hour and heavy rainfall, Xinhua news agency reported.

Earlier on Monday air evacuations from nearby towns being led by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) were suspended due to deteriorating weather conditions.

Evacuation efforts, which focused on the town of Borroloola nearly 50 km inland from where the cyclone made landfall and more than 700 km southeast of Darwin, began on Monday morning but were called off because Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft were unable to land safely.

It left 700 people trapped in the region as the cyclone approaches, with power cut off and residents urged to conserve batteries.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, NT’s Chief Minister Eva Lawler said there were up to 71 buildings in Borroloola rated to withstand a category 3 cyclone that remaining residents could shelter in, including the police station, health centre and homes.

“We’re working with the local emergency management team to keep the community safe,” she added.

“There are enough buildings in Borroloola that are rated to withstand a category 3 cyclone to keep the community safe.”

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has issued flood warnings across the northeast of the NT with up to 300 mm of rain expected but has said that large-scale destruction is unlikely.

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