North Queensland Advised to Brace for Tropical Cyclone Ita, Left 19 Dead, Massive Floods in Solomon Islands (PHOTOS)

By Esther Tanquintic-Misa
April 7, 2014 1:49 PM EST

North Queensland Advised to Brace for Tropical Cyclone Ita, Left 19 Dead, Massive Floods in Solomon Islands (PHOTOS)

Residents off North Queensland coast are being advised to brace for tropical Cyclone Ita which has left 16 people dead as well as massive floods in Solomon Islands.

Located over 1000 kilometres off Cairns on Sunday and moving in a westerly direction, category one Cyclone Ita is expected to intensify into a category three by Tuesday.

"It could start having influence on the Australian mainland from late Thursday, but more likely on Friday or Saturday," Rob Sharpe, Weatherzone Meteorologist, said.

"There's quite a bit of uncertainty beyond the next three, four, five days. Tropical cyclones seem to have a mind of their own, so it's quite difficult to forecast them, particularly at this range."

Brett Harrison, senior forecaster, however told AAP Cyclone Ita has the potential to become a category four cyclone.

Cyclone Ita dumped large amounts of rainfall on Solomon Islands last week, rendering massive floods that led to the deaths of 19 people. About 40 remain missing while 49,000 people are homeless.

The government has declared a state of emergency. On Thursday, Cyclone Ita's heavy rains burst the banks of Matanikau, Honiara's main river. It swept riverside communities, tore down bridges and submerged the downtown area.

"This is unprecedented, and I've seen earthquakes and tsunamis and other very bad flooding incidents," The Guardian quoted Katie Greenwood, country director of Oxfam. "But this flash flooding is unlike anything that I've seen previously here in the country."

Emergency services authorities fear the lack of sanitation and fresh water could yield to a dengue fever outbreak in the area.

"There is a widespread disaster developing here and we are sure there will be more than the bridge in Honiara out," Brisbane Times quoted Dr Andrew Jeremijenko, a Brisbane medico who is working in Honiara.

An update released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the Honiara International Airport has reopened to limited commercial flights as navigation lights are damaged and the domestic terminal remain flooded.

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