Thousands flee homes as cyclone hits eastern Australia

Officials are warning of 'destructive winds' and potential flash flooding

Thousands flee homes as cyclone hits eastern Australia

Image: Australian government / Bureau of Meterology

Thousands of people have had to flee their homes in eastern Australia.

Warnings have been issued in Queensland as Cyclone Debbie has reached the state.

The cyclone has been downgraded to a category 3 storm as it moves slowly inland.

Officials are warning of sustained winds near the centre of 150 km/h, with wind gusts up to 205km/h.

As well as the 'destructive' winds, local government is also warning of potential flash floods and abnormally high tides.

The Brisbane Times reports that emergency services have warned it could be between six and 14 hours before the cyclone has completely moved over affected areas.

According to ABC, one man has been seriously injured in the town of Proserpine.

Sky News Australia reporter Johanna Marie said conditions are unusually bad.

"Here in north Queensland we do often get cyclones," she explained. "This one, however, has been described by authorities as potentially the most significant cyclone to batter the coast for at least six years."