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Category-2 Tropical Cyclone Lua is tracking towards Australia's northwest Pilbara coast and is expected to intensify into a severe tropical cyclone this morning and remain severe through to landfall, the Bureau of Meteorology reported early Friday.
At 1500 GMT Thursday, TC Lua was located 680 kilometers northwest of Port Hedland and moving east-southeast at 17 kilometers an hour, it said in a statement.
"It is expected to accelerate towards the east Pilbara coast during Friday" and likely bring "very destructive" winds with gusts in excess of 170 kilometers an hour in coastal areas near the center of the cyclone on Saturday, it said.
Gales are expected to extend inland through the central and eastern Pilbara--Australia's premier iron-ore province--and further inland into sparsley-populated areas on Saturday and early Sunday, it said.
U.S.-based energy firm Apache Corp. (APA) said Wednesday it has stopped production at its Stag oil field offshore northwest Australia because of Cyclone Lua, while Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL.AU) Tuesday halted production at four oil fields off the northwest coast because of TC Lua.
By Ray Brindal, Dow Jones Newswires; 612 62080902; email@example.com