Authorities on Thursday were moving about 2,000 people inland from part of Australia’s northern coast ahead of a powerful cyclone expected to hit on Saturday.
Evacuees were being moved by air and road from remote, mostly indigenous communities on the east coast of the Northern Territory to its capital, Darwin.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said Cyclone Trevor with sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (200 kph) and gusts up to 160 mph was expected to bring heavy rainfall and a dangerous storm surge.
An emergency was declared in communities along the western Gulf of Carpentaria where Trevor is expected to make landfall, Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.
At landfall, Trevor is forecast to be a Category 4 severe tropical cyclone, roughly similar to a Category 2 or 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale used in the U.S.
It’s the largest cyclone-related evacuation in the Northern Territory since Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin in 1974, leaving 71 people dead and forcing the evacuation of 30,000 people.
Gunner said the decision to evacuate the communities in the cyclone’s path was due to their remoteness.
Almost 1,000 residents had been evacuated by late Thursday from the towns of Groote Eylandt and nearby Numbulwar, Gunner said. Most of Borroloola’s 900 residents were expected to be evacuated, along with several smaller communities. Most would be housed in temporary accommodations in Darwin, Gunner said.
Trevor earlier crossed the Cape York peninsula in northern Queensland state, causing flooding, closing roads and knocking out power. No fatalities have been recorded.