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Thousands lose power as cyclone picks up steam off NQ coast

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A tropical cyclone is churning off north Queensland’s coast with thousands of homes left without power and heavy rains causing floods in some areas.

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Cyclone Niran is packing 85km/h winds and 120km/h gusts as it slowly tracks northeast about 235km northeast of Cairns on Tuesday morning.

“The cyclone is expected to continue moving slowly to the northeast during today, before becoming slow-moving or drifting back slowly to the west this evening into Wednesday,” the Bureau of Meteorology said.

“Niran is expected to continue intensifying over the next day or two.”

The cyclone intensified into a category 2 system on Tuesday and is forecast to reach category 3 by 7am on Thursday

A gale warning has been issued for coastal and island communities between Cape Flattery and Innisfail, with gusts up to 100km/h expected by Wednesday.

The winds knocked down power lines on Monday night, blacking out about 42,000 homes in the region.

Two people were also rescued from floodwaters near the Star River, west of Townsville, about 9.30pm on Monday.

Cairns Deputy Mayor Terry James says weather has died down as the cyclone moves away from the coast on Tuesday morning.

“The conditions here at the moment is pretty typical in Cairns, beautiful one day and perfect the next,” he told Seven’s Sunrise program.

“So we have got a small hiccup, we have got a cyclone of the coast as you mentioned, about 250km to the northeast of us, and it’s a bit of a breeze at the moment and is heading away from us at the moment so we don’t expect to see to much trouble until maybe later on tonight, it might get a bit more costly again.”

James said the council was well prepared if the cyclone picks up or returns and it was trying to restore electricity to homes in areas where power lines were down.

He said if Niran returns it will likely track towards southern Cairns and the Cassowary Coast region.

“These things are very unpredictable. So we are saying to the people in the area just be vigilant, keep the eyes and ears open and listening to the forecast, listen to the radio and be prepared just in case,” the deputy mayor said.

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