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‘Once in a decade storm’ hits Western Australia, New Zealand PM stays cool during earthquake

A dust storm blows across Carnarvon, Western Australia, Australia May 24, 2020, in this still image obtained from a social media video. EDWIN VAN BRUGGEN

Thousands without power in Western Australia after once in a decade storm

Wild weather downed trees and left tens of thousands of people without power in Western Australia, as emergency services began cleaning up in Perth on Monday after some of the worst weather in a decade.

Wind speeds of up to 132 km/hour (82 mph) were registered at Cape Leeuwin, one of the state’s most south-westerly points early on Monday, the strongest May gusts in 15 years, according to the Australia Broadcasting Corp.

“Some wild weather has affected large parts of WA, causing widespread damage and large scale power outages. Please listen to the advice of emergency services and stay safe everyone,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on social media.

Around 50,000 customers were without power on Monday due to storm-related outages, utility Western Power said, as the remnants of Cyclone Mangga hit a cold front and brought squalling rain and emergency level storm warnings to the south of the state.

“New damage from the windborne debris has meant the overall number of impacted homes and businesses remains high,” it said on Twitter.

More than 390 calls for assistance were made to the state’s emergency services since Sunday, mostly from the Perth metropolitan area, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services Chief Superintendent Danny Mosconi told ABC Radio.

Pilbara Ports Authority said port operations in the Pilbara had not been affected, but elevated swell led to some minor shipping schedule changes at the Port of Dampier, which is used by Rio Tinto.

The biggest oil and gas operators in WA, Chevron Corp , Woodside Petroleum and Santos, said there was no impact on their operations in the minerals-rich state.

BHP Group said their was no major impact to its operations. Rio Tinto Ltd declined to comment.

 New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was undaunted by an earthquake that struck the capital Wellington on Monday while she was doing a live TV interview, and calmly continued with the programme.

Ardern, who became prime minister in 2017, is hugely popular in New Zealand for her handling of several crises – a mass shooting in Christchurch last year, a volcanic eruption in December and the recent coronavirus pandemic.

Wellington and nearby areas were shaken by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake with the epicentre 30 km (20 miles) northwest of Levin, a city close to the capital, and at a depth of 37 km, according to Geonet.

Ardern was speaking on a live TV interview at the time from the parliament building, called the Beehive.

“We’re just having a bit of an earthquake here, Ryan…,” she told the host of the show Ryan Bridge, as she, the camera and other things around her shook.

“Quite a decent shake here…if you see things moving behind me. The Beehive moves a little more than most,” she said.

Ardern assured the host that she was safe and the interview resumed.

“We are fine, I’m not under any hanging lights and I look like I am in a structurally strong place,” she added.

The video was soon viral on social media.

Although the quake caused no damages or injuries were reported, it lasted for more than 30 seconds and caused panic in Wellington with several people in offices and homes getting under their tables for cover.



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