Image: Damage in Lennox Head, Australia
Jason O'brien  /  Reuters
Residents survey the damage caused by a tornado after it swept through the town of Lennox Head in northern New South Wales, Austrilia, on Thursday.
updated 6/4/2010 11:42:48 AM ET 2010-06-04T15:42:48

A violent storm and waterspout swept through a coastal town in eastern Australia on Thursday, tearing the roofs off homes, devastating a caravan park and leaving six people injured, officials said.

The rotating thunderstorm, known as a supercell, and a waterspout that formed underneath it caused considerable damage in the town of Lennox Head in northern New South Wales state, said meteorologist Julie Evans of the Bureau of Meteorology.

Lennox Head resident Rob Brown said a loud noise awoke him and his family and that when he went outside, he saw a waterspout heading straight for him.

"Before I knew it, trees were being uprooted, bricks tossed around and flung into fences, and houses were going up into the air — it was carnage," he said.

"I grabbed the kids and told them to stay away from the windows, which started blowing in. It only lasted about three minutes, but the roof of my garage ended up 650 feet down the street."

The wind and hail destroyed or damaged dozens of houses and left about 2,000 homes without power, New South Wales Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan said.

"The power pole's bent, there's caravans on top of caravans ... debris everywhere — it's unbelievable," resident Anna Dicker told Fairfax Radio Network.

Six people were injured, and residents were advised to stay away from areas where downed power lines were lying across roads, New South Wales police said.

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