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By Julia Daia Bore

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Mar. 9) –People living along the Papuan coastline have been warned to take precautions against heavy rain and strong winds caused by tropical cyclone Ingrid.

[The storm, which earlier had been classified a top-scale "category five" cyclone packing winds of up to 175 miles per hour, today was east of Australia’s northern coast had dropped to a "category three," with peak winds of about 105 miles per hour. The cyclone, tracking westward, was expected to drop further to a category one tomorrow with gusts of up to 75 miles per hour, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.]

Papua New Guinea’s National Weather Bureau attributed the heavy rain and gale force winds experienced in Port Moresby in the early hours of Tuesday morning to Ingrid, which was last night located some 500 kilometers south of Port Moresby.

The Weather Bureau said it has sent out warnings of strong winds intensifying along the coastal waters from Central province’s Yule Island through Hood Point to Suau Island waters in Milne Bay province.

The Bureau’s Assistant Director of Forecasting and Warning Jimmy Gomoga said all costal communities along the southern stretch of PNG must take particular "precautions and necessary measures to avoid loss of life and damage to properties".

Mr Gomogo said homes and properties structured from bush materials are likely to be damaged due to the intensifying of the strong winds within the next 12 hours, from 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon.

Tropical Cyclone Ingrid developed in the Coral Sea and was named by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology on Saturday (March 6).

Ingrid was last night 500 km south of Port Moresby over open waters and was intensifying as it travelled northwest from its original location above Northern Australia’s Coral Sea.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology yesterday classified Ingrid at Category Five – the highest and most forceful category - and has compared it to Cyclone Tracy that hit Darwin on Christmas Eve in 1974.

The BBC today reported the Ingrid had been downgraded to a Category Four, but that it was due within hours to hit northern Queensland. The storm earlier had winds of up to 280km/h (175mph), although it has since lost some of its strength.

March 10, 2005

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