in the biggest air evacuation in Australian history, over 35,000 people are being lifted out of the north Australian port of Darwin.
in the biggest air evacuation in Australian history, over 35,000 people are being lifted out of the north Australian port of Darwin. The city was devastated by cyclone Tracy on Christmas Day and rescue operations have been underway since.
At least 49 people died in the cyclone and more than two-thirds of the buildings in the city were wrecked , leaving thousands homeless.
The Australian Government moved swiftly and more than 40 civil and military aircraft have been working to evacuate the refugees to other parts of the country. A Qantas Jumbo jet lifted 694 people in one flight to Sydney -- believed to be a world record passenger payload for such an aircraft. By next week-end, the Government hopes that only 10,000 people will be left in the cyclone-devastated city. Water supplies are cut off, and many are talking their fresh water form the mains pipeline along the principal highway. Ships carrying food and other provisions have arrived, but food supplies are handed out only at specially-established centres. Armed guards and police patrol wrecked houses for looters, and al least 15 people have appeared in court, so far, charged with theft.
On Monday (30 December) the Northern Territory Administration declared the area a closed city, with access limited only to essential personnel. Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam has declared that Daring will be rebuilt -- whatever the cost. It is estimated that this -- the greatest natural disaster in Australian history -- will cost the country at least 250 million Australian dollars (GBP 140 million sterling).