Road death, highways closed in day of drama

Road death, highways closed in day of drama

22 January 2009

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Australia — Smoke and debris from several bushfires in Tasmania, fanned by strong winds, closed the Midland and Esk Highways this afternoon and a woman has been killed in a road accident in the south.

Police advised at 4.30pm that the Midland Highway would be closed for an extended period because more than 20 power poles along the road had been burnt.

Motorists are urged to limit their travel on the Midland Highway but a diversion via the Nile Road and the Macquarie/Cressy Road is in place.

A woman was killed in a two car accident on Tea Tree Road in the South and traffic has been diverted around the accident scene.

And the Lower Domain Highway has been closed because of a crash between a truck and a car. The truck rolled and lost its load of zinc but there were only minor injuries.

Earlier Tasmania Police urged people to avoid driving and to stay indoors because of the high winds battering the State.

Wind gusts of up to 157 kph were recorded in the South and elsewhere power lines were brought down blacking out large parts of the State.

By late afternoon a cooler westerly change had brought rain to the State and the winds had dropped.

The Midland Highway was cut at Conara Junction and Powranna by bushfires with police redirecting traffic through side roads.

Esk Highway near Avoca was also closed for a while because of bushfires burning nearby. It was reopened around 3.30pm.

Smoke and dust generated by the strong winds reduced visibility in many areas and earlier a caravan was blown over on the Midland Highway at Tunbridge.

In Hobart a tree was blown down in Macquarie Street, falling on a Metro bus and injuring a female passenger.

Power cuts blacked out traffic lights and fallen trees and flying debris blocked many roads.

Police advised motorists to avoid the Tasman Bridge because of the wind that peaked at 125 kph in Hobart at 11am this morning. Power cuts blacked out the traffic lights on the bridge.

The weather bureau reported the top wind gust of 157 kph at Maatsuyker Island with Mt Wellington recording 141 kph.

The bureau had issued a severe wind warning for Tasmania and a total fire ban remains in force for southern Tasmania.

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