Australia Braces for Monster Cyclone

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Queensland, Australia is experiencing its second tropical cyclone this week. But Tropical Cyclone Yasi is expected to be several times more powerful than Tropical Cyclone Anthony, which battered the town of Bowen further south on Sunday. Thousands have fled their homes as the cyclone looks ready to cross the coast on Wednesday night about 10pm Australian time. Satellite images show Cyclone Yasi as a massive storm system covering an area bigger than Italy. Here's more from our correspondent in Australia, Robert Apicella.

In north-eastern Australia Tropical Cyclone Yasi intensified on Wednesday, becoming a maximum power, category 5 system.

Spanning 400 miles, Tropical Cyclone Yasi is heading towards the city of Cairns, Innisfail, Cardwell, Ingham and Townsville in far North Queensland.

[Anna Bligh, QLD's Premier]:
"The window of opportunity for you to get to a safer area is closing very quickly. Do not bother to pack bags. Just grab each other and get to a place of safety."

The cyclone is expected to cross the coast at 10pm on Wednesday night, Australian eastern standard time. Wind speeds of up to 186 miles per hour are predicted, threatening complete destruction for homes and businesses, and making emergency assistance efforts very dangerous.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology predicted it would be the strongest ever storm to hit Australia in living memory. Tropical Cyclone Yasi is currently generating enough energy to power the entire world for one year.

Tuesday saw the largest evacuation in the nation's history. Trains, buses and planes ferried thousands out of the area. About 250 patients from hospitals in Cairns were evacuated by military planes to Brisbane, the state's capital.

Robert Apicella, NTD News Australia.