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Marble Bar on red alert for Rusty


Marble Bar in Western Australia's Pilbara region remains on red alert as Tropical Cyclone Rusty moves inland and continues to weaken.

It's expected to ease below cyclone intensity later on Thursday and has been downgraded to a category two after peaking as a category four before it crossed the coast on Wednesday afternoon.

At 5am (WST), the Bureau of Meteorology estimated Rusty was 65km east-northeast of Marble Bar and 190km east-southeast of Port Hedland, where residents have been given the all clear to return home.

The iron ore export town had been expected to bear the brunt of the cyclone but has come through relatively unscathed, with only tree branches littering roads and about 55 homes without power.

Rusty is moving south-southeast at 13km/h.

Before it eases, the cyclone could bring destructive wind gusts up to 130km/h near the centre of the Pilbara region, while gales may extend to Nullagine and possibly to Newman.

Residents between Pardoo and Nullagine are being urged to stay sheltered and keep away from windows.

Heavy rainfall is still expected to cause major flooding in the De Grey catchment, with flooding also possible in the Upper Fortescue catchment and in east Pilbara coastal streams.

Visits by the WA Electoral Commission to some remote locations to collect votes for the March 9 election have been disrupted by the cyclone but will be rescheduled.