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Cyclone Hamish passes Whitsundays, but More Danger South

By Val Ellis last modified Mar 11, 2009 12:31 PM

Published: 2009-03-11 12:31:11
Countries: Australia

Hamilton Island, the largest resort island in Queensland's Whitsundays is getting back to business as usual after Cyclone Hamish threatened last night and this morning.

The island went into its most advanced state of preparedness at around 10.30pm last night when all guests and residents were requested to remain inside their accommodation buildings. Around 11pm last night winds gusted last night to 51 knots and reach 50 knots again at 5am this morning but have been moderating since.

Last night Hamilton Island chief executive officer Glen Bourke says staff were securing boats and property.

'We're into cyclone warning blue, which means some of the residents moved into the Reef View Hotel which is the principal safe haven,' he said.

Hamilton Island management provided guests with free meals for breakfast, morning tea and lunch as well as offering free in-room movies.

The Hamilton Island airport is closed today, however restaurants are expected to open for dinner service tonight. Due to the unpredictable nature of cyclones, the island will remain on cyclone alert until it has completely passed the area.

There are currently around 1180 guests on the island plus a resident base of around 1000 people.

However the category five Cyclone Hamish is now forecast to pose the greatest risk to central Queensland and the Wide Bay region of the state.

Lady Elliot and Heron Islands, off the coast of Gladstone, have been evacuated as a precaution against a tidal surge but Fraser Island is now in danger.

The cyclone warning has been extended south to Bundaberg, with a cyclone watch through to Tewantin on the Sunshine Coast, as Hamish continues to run parallel to the coastline - it has travelled further south than initially anticipated.

Premier Anna Bligh told Brisbane media this morning, "All of the central Queensland areas now have to take precautions." Ms Bligh said Fraser Island's residents would being evacuated off the island. "At this stage, the evacuation is proceeding smoothly and people are moving off their campsites and heading down to get off the southern end of the island."

by Sail-World
Sun, 8 Mar 2009