Holidaymakers exploring the Great Barrier Reef are being evacuated from the area as a cyclone heads for the Australian landmark.
Tourists on two islands off the coast of Queensland – Heron Island and Lady Elliott Island – are being returned to the mainland as Cyclone Ului approaches.
Dangerous winds are expected to strike the reef at the weekend, leaving low-lying islands at risk of swelling seas and high waves.
Two holiday resorts have taken the dramatic action of closing down in the face of the coming storm.
The Heron Island resort will shut its doors for at least four days, and has already evacuated 150 guests from the island. The process will be completed tomorrow, when the hotel’s 100 staff will also be transferred to the nearby city of Gladstone, on the mainland.
Heron Island lies 60 miles east of the Queensland coast.
A spokeswoman for Heron Island resort said: “Given the projected path of the cyclone, we made the decision today to take guests to the mainland.
“It was all done very calmly, but it was better to act while it was possible to leave safely.
“The island will probably be closed until Saturday, when we will re-assess the situation.”
Lady Elliott Island Eco Resort is planning to take similar precautions.
The University of Queenland has also opted for defensive measures, closing its research station on Heron Island and moving scientists, guests and valuable equipment to safety.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s most popular tourist attractions. It runs for some 1600 miles, and is made up of almost 3000 individual reef formations.