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Dust storm takes outback Queensland town by surprise, damages homes

By Harriet Tatham, Russell Varley, and staff, Tuesday February 20, 2018 - 18:23 EDT
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Dust storm hits Charleville - ABC

Charleville has been transformed into an apocalyptic sea of orange, as a dust storm whips through the south-western Queensland town.

Winds gusts of up to 96 kilometres per hour caused the dust storm, given the recent dry weather, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

Paige Donald, a 21-year-old roo shooter from Charleville, said the conditions were scary.

"We heard thunder, so we went outside to make sure the dogs were okay and bring everything inside, and we turned around and there was this big red dust storm coming along — it was pretty thick," she said.

"Our eyes are covered in dust."

Ms Donald said the conditions were something you would normally see on a big screen.

"It's a big orange cloud. It's pretty scary actually — it's just like movies," she said.

Marie Crook King from Glenorie Station, 80 kilometres south of Morven, said she was out working on a dozer in the paddocks and first ignored the wind — until she turned around and saw the red sky.

"All of a sudden it hit — dust was blown everywhere."

"I left my house open, so that was the main thing I was worried about," she said.

Ms Crook King said after the storm, her house was looking "pretty ordinary", and will have to get to work sweeping the dust out.

"We get used to that sort of thing here — when the wind dies down you clean it up and start again," she said.

Back in Charleville, Inspector Grant Marcus said the town was damaged, with parts of roofs ripped off, signs torn down and wheelie bins about the street.

"There are bits of sheets of iron that were loose that have been torn off a few parts of roofs and have been blown around a bit," Inspector Marcus said.

He said the dust storm took locals by surprise.

"So far I haven't spoken to anyone who's seen anything as unusual or significant as this in the way of dust storms. It's not unusual to get them out here, you do get them occasionally but it's quite a significant one and it's been lasting for a considerable amount of time," he said.

Falling trees kill man and horse

Yesterday, a 77-year-old man from a property near Mitchell, not far from Charleville, died after two trees fell on him and his horse.

The man was helping with mustering on Attica Station at Augathella about 5:00pm on Monday when the man's horse reared during a sudden wind and rain storm.

Both were hit by a falling tree.

Police say another man saw the incident and went to get help.

However, the injured man was hit by a second tree.

Inspector Marcus said there was little that could be done.

"They've put him in a vehicle and taken him to a nearby homestead, ambulance who were accompanied by a doctor have rushed there as fast as they could but unfortunately there was very little they could do," Inspector Marcus said.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

The man's horse also died in the incident.


© ABC 2018

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