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Yasi bears down on QLD

As cyclone Yasi bears down on Queensland and the state faces a storm of “catastrophic proportions”, QR National has suspended rail operations on its Goonyella and Newlands coal rail networks following the closure of the Abbot Point, Dalrymple Bay and Hay Point Coal Terminals.

The Bureau of Meteorology this morning upgraded Yasi to a category 5 cyclone. Yasi was a category 3 storm as of 1800 Universal Time Coordinates (UTC) yesterday, and was forecast to intensify into a category 4 system today.

It is expected that by late tonight the cyclone will hit somewhere around Cairns.

A spokesperson for QR National told Rail Express that the closures of the Goonyella and Newlands coal rail networks are a “precautionary measure” as Yasi approaches the Queensland coast.

“QR National unloaded a number of trains on [Monday] night at Abbot Point and Dalrymple Bay before the closures and is ensuring trains are stowed in safe locations and crews returned safely to home depots,” the spokesperson said.

“Coal train services in the Blackwater and Moura coal systems into the Gladstone port continue to operate.”

Rio Tinto reportedly said yesterday that it had suspended operations t its Hail Creek coking coal mine, though it is unclear if BHP Biliton had suspended operations at its northern Bowen Basin join-venture mines.