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Western Australia's Dampier, Hedland clear ports ahead of severe Cyclone Veronica

Singapore — Port facilities at Port Hedland and Dampier have been placed on high alert and enacted clearing procedures at berths and anchorages as Cyclone Veronica bears down on northern Western Australia, port authorities said Thursday.

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Both ports were due to be cleared by 6 pm local time (1000 GMT), port agents said.

"Veronica has continued to intensify and now is a Severe Category 4 tropical cyclone as it heads towards the Pilbara coast," Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said in an advisory.

"The cyclone is expected to track south to southwest today and intensify to Category 5. While it is possible the cyclone may weaken before reaching the Pilbara coast, a severe impact is likely," it added.

The bureau also warned major flooding was expected along the Pilbara coast over the weekend, with wind gusts to exceed 165 km/hour as the cyclone approaches the coast.

A separate cyclone bearing down on the Gulf of Carpentaria between the Northern Territory and Queensland that is expected to make landfall on Saturday has also prompted the closure of ports at Weipa, Gove and Groote Eylandt, according to port bulletins.

--Andrew Khaw,

--Shriram Sivaramakrishnan,

--Edited by Wendy Wells,