Australian Events in the News

The News - 27 December 1974
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A city in ruin

The News - 27 December 1974

Adelaide; News Limited

Newspaper, 410 x 300 mm

Location : State Library of South Australia - view catalogue entry

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On Christmas Eve 1974 Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin. The cyclone formed well to Darwin’s north on Saturday 21 December and many believed that it would not actually hit the city. However, by the afternoon of 24 December, the city was cloaked in low lying cloud and experiencing heavy rains and strong winds. Damage to buildings began late that night and by morning the devastation was obvious. 65 people were dead, 49 on land and 16 at sea. Darwin had no internal or external communications and 70 percent of its buildings had been destroyed or sustained some structural damage. 25,000 people were evacuated to southern cities, leaving only about 10,000 people in Darwin itself. Access to the city was restricted for the next six months. Cyclone Tracy was a small cyclone by world standards, the radius of winds being only 50 kilometres, but her winds were particularly strong. The official estimate of maximum wind speed, recorded at Darwin airport, was 217 kilometres per hour, but unofficial estimates suggested some gusts were up to 300 kilometres an hour.

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