Bligh Warns Of Catastrophic Power Failures Across Northern Queensland

11.45pm AEDT UPDATE – Anna Bligh and Ian Stewart have given their final media briefing for the night. Briefings will resume in the morning.

Bligh said 89,000 homes are now without power, mainly in Townsville and Ingham. The peak of the storm surge is still 2 hours away and will last 4 hours after that.

Deputy Commissioner Stewart reported on 6 people in their 60s in Hinchinbrook who have been advised to seek safety on the second floor of their building. The first floor is expected to be flooded.

  • Listen to Bligh and Stewart (10m)

9.55pm AEDT – A catastrophic power failure across northern and far north Queensland is a possibility when Cyclone Yasi hits landfall in the next few hours.

Premier Anna Bligh told a press briefing tonight that inland electricity transmission towers have never been tested by a Category 5 cyclone but Cyclone Larry saw towers ripped out of the ground. Describing the network of transmission towers that form a “spine” supplying northern Queensland, Bligh warned that many areas which will be unaffected directly by Yasi may be left without power for days. She said there were already early reports of power outages.

Anna Bligh and Ian Stewart

Bligh also warned of scenes of unprecedented heartbreak and devastation over the next 24 hours. Her comments echo earlier statements today, indicating that the government expects major and catastrophic damage from Yasi.

Bligh said the high tide due around now will be repeated in the morning at around 9.30am, creating a storm surge. Residual effects of high winds can be expected at that time. It is accordingly very dangerous to go outside too early after the cyclone hits. Winds may appear to have died down but the second storm surge will occur around the time of tomorrow morning’s high tide.

Deputy Commissioner Ian Stewart told the briefing that emergency personnel have bunkered down in the affected areas. It is “eerily quiet” but this was not expected to last long.

  • Listen to Anna Bligh and Ian Stewart (10m)
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