Business

WA businesses looted during cyclone alert

WA businesses looted during cyclone alert

JUVENILES who looted businesses during the tropical cyclone red alert in Western Australia’s Pilbara region over the weekend have been charged and Premier Mark McGowan says they should be ashamed of themselves.

As most residents bunkered down in their homes while Veronica brought destructive gale winds and torrential rain, 11 people allegedly took the opportunity to thieve from five commercial premises in South Hedland.

A police spokesman said there were also attempted burglaries at two other commercial premises, and more may be discovered as owners return to their businesses.

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He said a 22-year-old man had been charged with receiving while 10 juveniles had been arrested or detained.

Six of the youths, aged between 11 and 15, have been charged while a girl and boy, both aged 10, have been cautioned.

Two nine-year-olds, a male and female, have been spoken to and follow-up will be via education and engagement with their family, the spokesman said.

“Local police will be including Department of Communities in the engagement with the families of the younger children involved, and alternative court diversion programs/options may be considered if deemed appropriate,” the spokesman said.

While visiting Karratha to see the damage on Tuesday, Mr McGowan said the looting was disgraceful and those who did it should be ashamed of themselves.

Veronica was a category four on Saturday but is now a tropical low about halfway between Onslow and Barrow Island.

It is no longer producing gale winds and is not expected to re-intensify but heavy rainfall may continue to cause flooding.

Police and the army have evacuated people from their homes in Boodarie, south of South Hedland, which has been cut off by flood waters.

The Bureau of Meteorology said rainfalls up to 400mm had caused major flooding in the De Grey river catchment.

There is heavy flooding across sections of North West Coastal and the Great Northern Highways, and other major roads in the Pilbara.

It could be a few days before some of the more badly affected sections of highway can be re-opened to traffic, Main Roads executive director Des Snook said.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has responded to more than 110 call-outs across the Pilbara, mainly for uprooted trees and minor damage to structures including roofs.

The premier said the destruction was not as significant as expected and there had been no reports of injuries.

“The main worry at this point in time is flood damage,” he said.

The ports of Ashburton, Dampier and Port Hedland, which is the world’s biggest iron ore export hub, have been closed since Friday.

Oil and gas producer Woodside evacuated all personnel from its offshore production platforms, and is operating the Karratha gas plant and Pluto LNG plant using essential staff only.

Mr McGowan said he had spoken with affected companies in the region and they were rapidly returning to normal.