Queensland coal ports batten down the hatches

Three coal export facilities in Queensland have suspended ship-loading operations due to the approach of a Category 3 cyclone, Platts has just reported. They include Dalrymple Bay, Hay Point and Gladstone.

Cyclone Marcia is expected to make landfall between the ports of Mackay and Gladstone early Friday morning, according to sources at the ports. Gladstone has also directed ships steaming towards the port to safer locations at sea, as reported by Platts:

"In the interests of safety, 23 vessels have been ordered to pull anchor and head to deeper water this morning," a spokesman for the Department of Transport and Main Roads said in a statement Thursday. "An additional 11 vessels [will] sail out of the harbour during the course of the day," the spokesman added.

The storm has forced evacuations from coastal communities, with officials warning of wind gusts up to 285 kilometres an hour, heavy rain and abnormally high tides. Another cyclone, Category 4 cyclone Lam, slammed into the Northern Territory, cutting power to thousands, said the BBC.