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1 dead, 2 missing after Australia cyclone

CAIRNS, Australia - Rain and gusts from a weakening cyclone continued to bluster across northeastern Australia today as those caught in the eye of the storm salvaged belongings from wrecked homes.

In the only confirmed death, a 23-year-old man was asphyxiated by fumes from a diesel-powered generator in a closed room as he sheltered from Cyclone Yasi. Two people are missing more than 24 hours after the storm struck.

Yasi, which hit in the early hours yesterday, was among the most powerful ever in Australia, terrifying residents. Damage was widespread, but it was not as bad as had been feared.

Power was gradually being restored to towns, and airports were reopening. Cleanup teams with chain saws and other equipment were clearing roads. Residents were piling up roofing sheets and debris torn free by the storm, and mopping up homes doused by torrential rains.

Many were still reliving a night of terror. David Leger recalled the terrifying roar, then a violent bang like something had exploded.

"We gotta go!" he screamed to his father as the cyclone tore the roof off their home.

Leger and his parents scrambled down the staircase, but the house shook violently, sending Francis Leger, 83, tumbling down the stairs. The family made it to a small room on the ground floor, where they rode out the storm. - AP

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