MORE than 100 ships waiting to dock at two of Australia's most critical coal ports have had to flee the region ahead of Tropical Cyclone Debbie smashing the region with 220kmh winds.

The 110 giant coal carriers are thought to have scrambled east or south from the coast as the hulks rush to move away from the coastline.

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The two major coal ports at Hay Point already had a queue of 93 ships waiting to be loaded with cargo.

Further north at Abbot Point, near Bowen, another 16 were waiting patiently.

Port managers North Queensland Bulk Ports shut down both ports plus the Port of Mackay on Sunday once Cyclone Debbie appeared to be a major threat to the region.

The ships have likely fled to the east, or headed south towards Gladstone where the seas are deep, safe and far away from the worst of Debbie's wrath.

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NQBP boss Steve Lewis said the ports were no different from every other business in the region -- everything was secured and staff sent home.

"Across our ports, critical assets and infrastructure such as tugs, wharfs and stockpile equipment have been tied down and secured," Mr Lewis said.

All port staff have been sent home.

Abbot Point and Hay Point will restart loading ships "as soon as possible".

Tony Martin


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