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The Age

New threat as cyclone whirls out to sea

Author: EMMA TOM
Date: 21/01/1994
Words: 450
          Publication: The Age
Page: 6
Brisbane. Tropical cyclone Rewa changed direction and was heading slowly out to sea last night after leaving a trail of deaths and devastation along the Queensland coast.

But the weather bureau warned that Queensland might face another cyclone within 24 hours as a tropical depression develops near Vanuatu.

Three people died in car crashes in Rewa's stormy weather, five people were plucked from cyclonic seas in boating mishaps and a teenage boy drowned after being sucked into a drain while ``surfing" Brisbane floodwaters on Wednesday.

Cyclone-driven torrential rain in south-east Queensland eased yesterday as Brisbane residents mopped up after Wednesday night's flash floods, which submerged cars and damaged about 100 houses.

An army helicopter yesterday rescued two men from a fishing trawler drifting in huge seas off the Central Queensland coast, near Swains Reef.

Three other young men escaped after their boat was swamped and sunk in Brisbane's Moreton Bay on Wednesday night. They clung to a navigational beacon for more than 12 hours before being rescued by water police.

The regional director of the Queensland Bureau of Meteorology, Mr Rex Falls, said it was unlikely that the cyclone would cross the coast.

His main concern was for the islands off the state's central coast, which were experiencing gales and six-metre seas.

The only cyclone warning still in place yesterday afternoon was for the Bunker group of islands, off Bundaberg.

A senior meteorologist, Mr David Alexander, said there was a moderate chance that a tropical depression developing near Vanuatu could become a cyclone within 24 hours. ``It's in Fiji's area at the moment, but we are keeping an eye on it," he said.

Mr Falls said Rewa would probably skirt Fraser Island as it moved south, but he said the northern tip of the island would experience gales.

Late yesterday, the cyclone was 150 kilometres north-east of Bundaberg and moving south-east at 15kmh. Destructive winds extended 80 kilometres from its centre and it had gusts of up to 140kmh.

Rewa was expected to be about 180kilometres east of Brisbane by 9am tomorrow, the bureau said.

Heron Island was buffeted by gusts of up to 130kmh on Wednesday night, but received only minor tree damage. The eye of the cyclone also passed within 25 kilometres of Lady Elliot Island, which experienced storm-force winds.

Wind warnings were present for coastal shipping from Yeppoon, north of Rockhampton, to Yamba in northern New South Wales.

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