Cyclone Veronica: Storm surge, flooding ‘red alert’ warning

Cyclone Veronica: Storm surge, flooding ‘red alert’ warning

Rio Tinto, the world's No. 2 iron ore miner, said on Sunday it was suspending rail operations in the Pilbara region and mining at the Robe Valley operations in Western Australia as a severe tropical cyclone hit the state's far north. The centre is expected to stay near the coast for about 8 to 12 hours.

"Pilbara Ports Authority will provide an update once the situation changes and operations recommence", the authority said in a statement.

Widespread heavy rainfall and very unsafe storm tides, causing very risky coastal inundation, are also expected.

A second cyclone, within 48 hours of a first one, on Monday brought destructive winds and torrential rains to the coastal regions of Australia.

Karratha Mayor Peter Long said the strong southerly winds reached 120km/h and caused vegetation damage and destroyed a shed. "On social media, we've seen a few trees lifted out".

A red alert that warns residents to find shelter and brace for destructive winds remained in place in parts of the Pilbara.

"I'm concerned about the cyclone surge because it's a spring tide which is the highest tide of the year so we're expecting a surge of two to five metres", he said.

Major mining and energy companies took precautionary steps across the region, a hub of liquefied natural gas and iron-ore exports, with ports cleared of ships and non-essential staff evacuated, according to australianminining.com.au website.

On Saturday, Category 4 Cyclone Trevor hit a remote part of the Northern Territory coast, about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) to the east of the Pilbara region.

The delay in the cyclone's movement will give people around the area to prepare for the destructive winds for an extended period on Sunday and Monday.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster James Ashley said Veronica was unique because of its slow speed, which would bring a long danger period.

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