december memories / 25



25th December, 1974 : The excitement of Christmas was turned into stark horror in Darwin as the killer wind of Cyclone Tracy struck in the night and ripped the city apart. An Army report describes the city as “looking as though it has been hit by an atom bomb”. The death toll is 66 and more than thousand have been injured. Rescuers are combing the debris. Up to 25,000 of the population of 48,000 are reported to be homeless, there is no power and little food or fresh water. The Federal Government has mounted a massive relief operation, and complete evacuation is being considered. The winds of Tracy, which hit at 2 a.m., wee stated in the Army report to be 179 kph. The winds abated for a while and then continued at their full strength until 5.30 a.m. Trees were ripped from the ground, cars overturned and power poles brought down. Residential areas were flooded.

Eyewitnesses report that the air was full of flying debris, particularly sheets of corrugated iron. Many families huddled in their houses, which either slowly disintegrated around them or were suddenly ripped from their foundations. Historic buildings, like the Christ Church Cathedral, Naval Headquarters and the Administrator’s residence, Flagstaff House, have been destroyed. Darwin Hospital has been extensively damaged.

The aircraft carrier Melbourne has been ordered to sail to Darwin.

About Avadoro Worden

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