Queensland escapes the worst of Cyclone Yasi

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One of the most powerful cyclones on record tore off roofs, cut power lines and terrified tens of thousands of people in northeastern Australia, but there are no reports of any deaths.

"It's a great relief this morning to be able to say that at this stage we still have no reports of any casualties, serious injuries or any fatalities," said Queensland Premier Anna Bligh.

Many people were astounded that Cyclone Yasi, which packed winds of up to 186 miles an hour, did much less damage than feared.

It came ashore along hundreds of miles of coast in Queensland state and then drove inland, bringing heavy rains to areas still struggling to recover from recent devastating floods.

In the midst of the storm, a girl was born in an evacuation centre in Cairns after a three hour labour. The baby is said to be healthy.

The Federal Government will make disaster relief payments of A$1,000 (£624) to cyclone victims, the same support arranged for victims of the floods last month.

About 177,00 homes are still without power and restoration is expected to take time, but most residents have been allowed to leave the shelters.

Thousands of military personnel are on standby in the disaster zone to treat injuries, help in rescue efforts, and restore essential services.