Tornadoes hit three Queensland coastal towns

Three tornadoes have ripped through the Bundaberg region this afternoon, injuring 17 people and damaging 150 properties.

The first tornado struck the coastal town of Bargara about 1pm, bringing down powerlines, tearing off roofs and smashing windows.

A man and a woman were seriously injured when their car was crushed by a falling tree. Both have been airlifted to Brisbane in a critical condition.

The second tornado hit Burnett Heads, about five kilometres north of Bargara, about 3.30pm, before tracing back towards the suburbs of Bundaberg.

Soon after, the sleepy seaside hamlet of Coonar, about 6 kilometres south of Bargara, was hit by a third tornado.

Emergency Services Minister Jack Dempsey told Fairfax Media that a triage centre had been set up in Bargara to treat 15 other people injured by flying glass and debris.

"It's certainly an Australia Day no one in Bundaberg will every forget," he said.

"The fact that these tornadoes are completely unpredictable...we can't say whether they're finished or whether more or coming.

"People are shocked. They're anxious and the Queensland Ambulance Service has taken a number of calls from residents with anxiety."

Mr Dempsey said thousands of homes were without power and efforts to repair powerlines were hampered by the risk associated with being outside.

"We're telling everyone to stay inside because we don't know what's coming over the next 24 hours," he said.

"That makes it difficult for workers to clean up and repair power lines. But we're hoping power can be restored overnight."

Bargara resident Judith McNamara, who witnessed the tornado through her kitchen window, said it left a car in her yard with a tree through it.
"All of a sudden ... I looked up and a tree went flying through the air ... and the car went up," she told ABC radio.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said it damaged homes, shops, a bowling club and government buildings.

All roads into the town are closed.

Mr Dempsey said Bundaberg was still bracing itself for possible flooding from the Burnett River and said he expected many residents would experience a sleepless night waiting to see what the weather brings.

"For this event to have happened here on top of everything else that's going on...no one can believe it," he said.

If you have photographs of one of the tornadoes, or any damage caused, please share them by emailing btscoop@gmail.com

View Larger Map

The story Tornadoes hit three Queensland coastal towns first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop