Hurricanes - Typhoons

Cyclone Debbie leaves thousands trapped on Australian islands

Strong winds and heavy rain knocked out power to tens of thousands of homes and forced residents to evacuate

 

Three thousand people remain trapped on the battered Whitsunday Islands, as food and water threatens to run out in the wake of Cyclone Debbie.

Tourists in the region are growing increasingly desperate, unable to leave due to sustained bad weather.

Planned mass evacuations of Hamilton and Daydream islands were cancelled yesterday as holiday-makers struggled without power or a way home.

The official Hamilton Island Facebook page said the airport would reopen today, with Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Qantas to provide additional flights through to Saturday until all guests were returned home.

The Facebook page also reported that there were no injuries on the island to guests, residents or staff.

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Daydream Island was unable to send any guests home overnight due to adverse weather conditions.

“The harbour master has not given permission for any marine vessels to operate until the waterways are safe,” the Daydream Island Resort and Spa posted on Facebook last night.

“In addition, we have been hampered by damage to key transport infrastructure both on Daydream and on regional roads and airports.

“As such, we will not be able to transport any guests off the island today.”

Water on the island was rationed to one bottle per person for 471 guests and staff, The Courier-Mail reported.

“We’ve got a barge going out there tonight to keep them going until we can get the evacuation happening there,” Queensland Police deputy commissioner Steve Gollschewski said yesterday.

Tourists are plotting their escape back on the mainland at Airlie Beach, which was also badly damaged by the cyclone.

Some are planning to pay someone to drive a hire car from Mackay to Airlie Beach and back so they can catch a flight at a larger airport, news.com.au’s Emma Reynolds reports from Airlie.

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“It looks like the roads will be too flooded however, because the rain is still pouring here, lightning flashing and thunder rumbling,” she said.

Jacqui McCullagh, who was staying on Hamilton Island with her friends, told The Courier-Mail that it “looked like a war zone”.

“Boats washed ashore, houses without roofs, windows smashed in, trees snapped in half, gum trees torn out of the ground and those that do remain standing, are bare and lifeless,” she said.

“The wind gusts were so ferocious, they sounded like freight trains passing by. The concrete walls were shaking non-stop all day.”

READ MORE FROM NEWS.COM.AU.