A powerful storm that is charging towards Western Australia (WA) has intensified to a category five system.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Ilsa is expected to hit Port Hedland, in the state’s north, late on Thursday night.
A red alert has been issued across the region, with thousands of people ordered to take immediate shelter.
While northern Australia is no stranger to cyclones, this storm is predicted to be the strongest to hit the region in 14 years.
The “very destructive core” of the storm will bring “extreme” wind gusts of up to 315km/h (195mph) in parts of the Kimberley and Pilbara regions, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said.
“There is a threat to lives and homes. You are in danger and need to act immediately,” the Department of Fire and Emergency Services said, when the red alert was issued on Thursday afternoon, local time.
Residents, including some 15,000 people in Port Hedland, the world’s biggest iron ore exporting port, have been ordered to shelter inside and stay away from doors and windows.
“It is too late to leave. Stay indoors until the all clear is given by authorities,” the red alert warning states.
Port Hedland Mayor Peter Carter said evacuation centres had been set up in the town.
“Everyone is on edge,” Mr Carter told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “They understand that cyclones are what they are. They’re very, very unpredictable.”
Some 700 residents from the remote community of Bidyadanga have been evacuated, the fire service has said.
Weather officials also warned of up to 400mm (15.7in) of rain and abnormally high tides, with the storm’s impact felt across a 600km (370 mile) region from Port Hedland to just south of Broome.