OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Cyclone Larry puts Queensland in state of emergency: churches offer shelter to homeless families

Tuesday, 21 March 2006

Townsville (Fides Service) - A violent cyclone Larry struck the eastern coastal regions of Australia on March 19. The category 5 cyclone, the most destructive in thirty years, raged with winds up to 300km per hour along 400km of coastline from Cairns to Townsville. The worst hit urban area was the little town of Innisfail with a population of just 8,000 people.
Although no one was reported dead or even injured the authorities of Queensland province declared a state of emergency and ordered the evacuation of 7,000 people. The Australian army is on the alert. Centuries old trees and greater part of sugar cane plantations were uprooted in this region which grows one quarter of the national produce. In its fury the wind destroyed 200,000 tons of bananas and caused serious damage to other crops which will have repercussions on the local economy .
Besides government centres for the victims, churches, schools and religious institutes are also giving shelter to the stricken families. This offer of a safe and easily reachable haven has been much appreciated by the local authorities. (Agenzia Fides 21/3/2006 righe 25 parole 256)