19a["The Cyclone", The West Australian, Tuesday 26 March 1912, page 5]

THE CYCLONE.

KOOMBANA STILL MISSING.

GRAVE ANXIETY.

DEPUCH ISLAND A CEMETERY.

BULLARRA'S TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE.

News of the Nor'-West cyclone continues to trickle in all too slowly, and with no reassuring reports concerning the fine coastal trader Koombana, which is supposed to have left Port Hedland at 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday last for Broome, and has not since been heard of, the feeling of suspense in the city and Fremantle yesterday became deeply accentuated. The steamer is now five days out on a voyage which should under ordinary circumstances have occupied 24 hours, and her whereabouts were the main topic of conversation. The ferocity of the hurricane and its toll of human life were almost forgotten in anxiety for the welfare of the passengers and crew of the steamer. It was persistently hoped that news would come to hand during the day announcing her safety, but the hours slipped away without any intimation whatever concerning her fate.

...

Owing to the complete isolation of Port Hedland, which constitutes perhaps the storm centre of the blow, not a word has been received from there in the last five days. No news is generally good news, but in the case of the Koombana, Port Hedland probably holds the knowledge whether she sought haven in some near-by haven or steamed out to battle the gale. Lack of knowledge has led to all sorts of speculations, the most predominant being that possibly owing to light loading her machinery has broken down. The Koombana is the finest boat that has traded on the Nor'-West line. She has the reputation of being able to ride the roughest seas, and on the score of seamanship the presence of Captain Allen on the bridge is held to be her safest guarantee.

...

Meanwhile the information in connection with the disasters along the coast, where from La Grange Bay to Roebourne the cyclone played havoc with life and property, adds more pathos to the story already told.

The latest particulars from Depuch Island, a point at which the blow found many men at sea, are to the effect that 16 white men alone have been buried there. The captain of the Crown of England buried six of his own crew on the island, in addtion to Messrs. T. J. Hill, Maginnis and Thompson, a surveyor whose body was found in the rigging of the lighter Clyo. The first two named were among a party of 14 witnesses in the Seleno murder trial, who were transshipping to catch the steamer for Roebourne in the lighter Clyo when the cyclone overtook them. Amongst the witnesses who are still missing are William Kelleher, M. J. Sheehan, Rupert Love, and Nagel.

It is stated that matters in connection with the court witnesses have been most unfortunate. On March 16 the corporal in charge at Roebourne wired to the Crown Solicitor, Perth, to have the witnesses sent by the Paroo, and also wired to the Perth police to see that the telegram was promptly delivered. The corporal in charge here took it on himself to wire the Whim Creek police to bring all available witnesses by the Paroo, which was done. The balance were drowned. The three luggers lost are the Clara, Karrakatta, and Karrara.

Two Japanese swam ashore from the lugger Clara and reported that the boat, four of the crew, and the white mate were lost, also another lugger with all hands gone. All the Cossack luggers are believed to be safe.

The wharfinger travelled along the tram line to Cossack on Sunday with a trolly and horse. Light freight may be got through that way in a few days provided men are put on to repair the track which, across the marsh, is in the air in many places. Prompt action by the Works Department is necessary to avoid delay and enable goods to come to Roebourne.

...

THE KOOMBANA.

KEEN ANXIETY.

SUPPOSED BREAKDOWN TO MACHINERY.

Throughout the day the agents of the Koombana were besieged with inquiries, but unfortunately the brief information which did come to hand was not of a character calculated to allay the fears and anxiety of those who have relatives and friends on the overdue steamer. This anxiety is now shared by the owners of the Koombana, but the local representatives of the Adelaide S.S. Company, Limited, are of the opinion that she has met with nothing more than a mishap to her machinery, which accounts for her not being reported. Yesterday, Mr W. E. Moxon, manager in Western Australia for the Adelaide S.S. Company, Limited, made the following statement:--

"The Koombana is now five days out from Port Hedland on her way to Broome, a passage that she normally makes in 24 hours. It would be idle to say that we are not anxious--extremely anxious. Still, knowing that she is such an admirable sea boat, and that the master is such a careful mariner, we have every confidence that she will turn up safely."

Nor is this optimism confined solely to the agents. Many well-known seafaring men at the Port, who have had considerable experience of the Nor'-West coast, are firmly convinced that the Koombana will be reported within a day or two. It is very probable, they state, that she has received such a terrible buffeting that she is lying off the coast awaiting a complete abatement of the storm before approaching the land. Others are of the opinion that she has met with a mishap to either her propeller or to the machinery. The Koombana is never very heavily laden on the trip north, and after leaving Port Hedland she would have only the Broome and Derby cargo in her holds. She would thus be in very light trim, and the theory has been advanced that during the storm an accident occurred to the shaft or propeller as the result of the vessel pitching in the tremendous seas.

...

When the German mail steamer Gneisenau arrived from Colombo yesterday, it was hoped that she would be able to furnish some word of the Koombana. All the light that the master of the mail steamer could throw on the matter, however, was that on Wednesday last, during the voyage across the Indian Ocean, the wireless operator got into touch with the Koombana. The latter, which was then at Port Hedland, was about 800 miles distant.

It was on the same day that the Koombana sailed from [sic] Broome, and since then no further word had been received by the Gneisenau. Throughout yesterday the Gneisenau's operator sat at his instrument, throwing out at frequent intervals urgent signals to the Koombana. There was no response, however, and when the result became known, the anxiety became even more acute. It was, however, pointed out that the Koombana's wireless installation may have been wrecked during the storm, which would account for no response being received. Again, it might be that her apparatus was not sufficiently powerful to send a reply to the Gneisenau, more particularly during the day time, which is not nearly so conducive to long-distance signalling as the night time. Should the Koombana's installation remain intact, it was hoped that she would be able to get into touch with the P. and O. liner Mongolia, which is due from Colombo this morning. The latter would pass within easy range of the Koombana's instrument, and it is to be hoped that on arrival she will bring more hopeful tidings than the Gneisenau.

THOROUGH SEARCH TO BE MADE.

ARRANGEMENTS BY THE ADELAIDE S.S. CO.

When spoken to yesterday by a representative of the "West Australian," Mr. W. E. Moxon, manager for the Adelaide S.S. Co., said that the Government had decided to despatch two luggers to search for the Koombana, on the assumption that she had met with a mishap. One would search the Rowley Shoals, while the other would proceed along the Ninety Mile Beach from Broome to Port Hedland. The Company had also arranged for the steamer Moira, which, according to information received that day had arrived safely at Broome, in keep a good look-out on her return trip to Fremantle. A cable had also been despatched to Batavia instructing the master of the Blue Funnel liner Gorgon to watch for any signs of the missing vessel. The Gorgon was due at Broome on Friday or Saturday. The Bullarra was still at Point Sampson. She was short of water, and it would he necessary for her to proceed to Port Hedland to land her stock, as it was impossible to obtain water at either of those two places. This, Mr. Moxon pointed out, was one of the disadvantages which they had to contend with on the Nor'-West trade. Afterwards the Bullarra would proceed to Broome, and the matter of making a search for the Koombana would be left in the hands of her master. There are thus five vessels at the least on the look-out for the missing steamer, and, providing nothing more serious has occurred, some tidihgs of her should soon be received. Yesterday a wire was received by the Chief Harbour Master to the effect that the Koombana had not arrived at Derby, which disposes of the statement that she was lying at that port. Last night Mr. W. E. Moxon received a cable message from Broome to the effect that three luggers and a motor boat were leaving Broome almost immediately to search the Ninety Mile Beach. No doubt the luggers referred to include the two arranged for by the Government. Every steamer now moving along the Nor'-West coast has been or is being communicated with advising them to keep a look-out for the Koombana. The Bullarra is expected to leave Point Sampson for Port Hedland this afternoon, where she will discharge her stock, afterwards making for Broome.

PREMIER'S ACTION.

SEARCHING FOR THE KOOMBANA.

EVERYTHING POSSIBLE BEING DONE.

During Sunday night the Premier (Mr. J. Scaddan) got into touch with Broome and Derby by cable via Port Darwin and Banjowangie, and received information that up to midnight there was no sign of the Koombana at Derby, at which port it had been reported she had arrived. The Premier then cabled to the Mayor, and also to the resident magistrate at Broome, and authorised the latter to do whatever he deemed best in connection with making inquiries with regard to the missing vessel, and promising that everything would be done at the Perth end. The resident magistrate was also requested to keep the Government advised.

At 7.30 yesterday morning the superintendent of the Eastern Extension Company informed the Premier that Derby reported that there was no sign of the Koombana.

Later in the day a further cable was received by the Premier from the resident magistrate at Broome setting out that in order to relieve the anxiety which was being felt in so many quarters, it was advisable to send out a steamer in search of the Koombana. The cablegram supplied the information that the s.s. Moira was at Wyndham, and that the s.s. Minderoo was also on the North-West coast. Mr. Scaddan had in the meantime arranged for a search to be made up toward the Rowley Shoals, and for a lugger to be sent out along the 90-mile beach to Port Hedland.

Throughout the day the Premier continued to make use of cable and telegraph, and on being notified that when the Koombana left Fremantle she had 15 passengers for Broome and 31 for Derby, he cabled to the resident magistrate at Broome as follows:-"Please cable captain of Moira, stating that the Government would like to know the date the Koombana left Hedland and the dates of the storm. Further, will he kindly keep a good lookout for Koombana on his way down coast, and advise Premier's office, Perth, from any port, or other possible means."

Late last night the Premier received the following telegram (via South Australia) from the Resident Magistrate at Broome:--I consider that the steamer Minderoo should be instructed to proceed direct to search Montebello Island and Rowley shoals. Have received the following message from the master of the s.s. Moira at Wyndham, which should be communicated to masters of searching vessels:

"We encountered cyclonic weather at 8 a.m. on the 20th inst. in lat. 19.20 south, long, 117 east, 100 miles north-west Hedland. The Moira was run before the storm in a westerly direction, about 150 miles. The storm, roughly lasted 24 hours, the wind gradually shifting from east-north-east to south-westerly. Ship proceeded on journey, passing 60 miles north-west of Rowley shoals. The steamer Charon was near [? Lgulier] reef at 7 a.m. on the 22nd inst., bound Java. Consider the cyclone more severe nearer land than with us. Did not sight the Koombana. (Signed) Ward, master, Moira."

A second cable message has reached the Premier from Broome to the effect that the Resident Magistrate and residents of the town consider it imperative that both the steamers Moira and Minderoo should be immediately despatched direct to the scene of the hurricane; that the authorities should not wait for the ordinary ship; and, further, that the agents of the steamer Gorgon should instruct the captain of that vessel at Sourabaya to immediately search thoroughly the Rowley shoals before proceeding to Broome. Mr. Scaddan has also been officially informed that the Koombana left Port Hedland at 10.30 a.m. on the 20th inst. Since the receipt of the above messages the Premier has been in communication with the agents and representatives of the vessels mentioned, with a view of deciding what course shall be adopted in connection with the search for the missing steamer. The steamer Minderoo has, it appears, left Geraldton for Carnarvon, and Captain Mills, the master, who is said to know the coast as well as any officer in the mercantile marine, will be instructed to await instructions at Carnarvon. This morning the agents of the Minderoo and of the other vessels mentioned in the messages from Broome and Wyndham will confer with the Premier at his office, when the nature of the instructions to be conveyed to Captain Mills will be agreed upon.

...

MASTER MARINERS' OPINIONS.

"KOOMBANA WOULD LIVE IN ANY HURRICANE."

Yesterday at Fremantle one master mariner gave it as his opinion that there was plenty of time to hear from the vessel yet. "Captain Allen," he said, "would very probably clear right out to sea at the very first sign that anything out of the way was coming along, so as to get out of the worst of it. Apart from that, I should not be surprised to hear that when the bad weather was signalled the Koombana was taken back to port, and rode out the storm at Port Hedland. There is one point, however," he added, "and that is in connection with shipping at Balla Balla during the cyclone season. If I had my way I should not allow a sailing vessel to go there during that period, for they have no chance once the weather comes up. There are no places there where such vessels can be properly moored to ride out a blow. I am told that when the barque Glenbank was wrecked up there last year in trying to make out to sea she was not caught in a proper cyclone; she was merely in a hard easterly gale, which is a different thing. Under existing conditions it is simply courting disaster for a sailing ship to go up there in the cyclone season. Of course, practically the only people who could prevent sailors going there at the period I speak of would be the insurance people. I pity any poor fellows who come to grief on Depuch Island. The coast is a terrible one, and at only one spot along the whole of the water frontage is there a sandy beach, and that is only a small concern. For the rest, the foreshore is strewn with rough stones, and when the tide is out one has to step from one stone to another when walking along. A party trying to make land in bad weather at any spot around Depuch Island except at the beachy part I speak of would be beaten to death in a few seconds." Captain C. H. Watson, a master mariner who knows the Nor-West coast well, having been engaged for years past in piloting luggers from Fremantle to Broome, takes an optimistic view regarding the fate of the Koombana. "I have travelled on several occasions as a passenger from Broome to Fremantle on the Koombana, and I have no hesitation in saying that properly handled the Koombana would live in any hurricane. She is a magnificent sea boat. On one trip we fell in with some very heavy weather, and the vessel behaved splendidly. She showed any amount of stability, and her rolling angle was very small." This was Captain Watson's testimony to the sea-going qualities of the Koombana when interrogated yesterday. Asked for an opinion as to the probable whereabouts of the overdue steamer, he said:--"Captain Allen, the master of the Koombana, is one of the most careful navigators on the Australian coast. His ability, too, is unquestioned. I believe that when he first saw signs of the approaching storm he would immediately make well out to sea. The Koombana is a lovely boat, and would never turn over. The only fear I have is that her engines may have broken down. This would account for her delay in reaching Broome, and in the event of no word of her being received by to-morrow morning I would advise that a vessel be sent out to search for her."

DESCRIPTION OF THE KOOMBANA.

The missing Koombana is without exception the finest and most up-to-date steamer that has ever plied between the Nor'-West ports of this State. Indeed she can claim to be one of the most popular and best equipped passenger steamers on the Australian coast. Built by Messrs. A. Stephen and Sons at Glasgow, she has only been running for about two years, during which time she has been extensively engaged dn the Nor'-West service. She is 4,399 tons register, her length being 340ft. The indicated horse-power of the vessel is set down at 4,000, and she is capable of steaming about 15 knots. For many years the Nor-West mail service was carried on by the Bullarra. On the arrival of the Koombaina from England, however, the Bullarra was withdrawn, and only a few weeks ago was again placed on the run in conjunction with the Koombana. Since her inception on the trade the Koombana has not been favoured by fortune. On several occasions she has met with mishaps, none of them, however, of a very serious nature.

...

AB notes:

The telegram to Gorgon was probably despatched on Monday, March 25th. See above: 'Thorough Search to be Made'.

No time to wait for the ordinary ship, says Broome in its 2nd telegram. 'the ordinary ship' = Government steamer Penguin

19b["Nor'-West Hurricane", The Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA), Tuesday 26 March 1912, page 7]

NOR'-WEST HURRICANE

PLAYS HAVOC AT BALLA BALLA

OVER TWENDY LIVES LOST.

HEDLAND UNDER WATER.

BARQUES WRECKED AT BALLA.

CAPT. MAGUINNESS DROWNED.

BULLARRA LOSES HER FUNNEL.

Perth, March 23.

Roebourne "spoke" to Port Hedland at 3.45 p.m. yesterday. The postmaster reports speaking eight miles from Port Hedland, where a terrific hurricane is raging. Immense damage has been caused everywhere. There is a foot of water in the post office. The foreshore roads have been washed away and a lot of boats damaged. The houses are all flooded.

(From a correspondent.)

Roebourne, Mar. 23, 3.30 p.m.

It has been blowing a gale on the coast since last Tuesday up to to-day. News came through today that the sailing vessels Concordia and Crown of England and three lighters were wrecked on Depuch Island, and there the dead bodies of Captain Maquinness, wharfinger for the Whim Creek Company at Balla Balla, and Mr. Thomas Hill, manager of the Federal Hotel at Whim Creek, were found along with the mate and the steward of the Crown of England. Possibly some survivors may be found on Depuch Island, but it seems unlikely.

Considerable damage was done at Point Sampson to the wharf, some 60 fender piles and about 30 feet of the T-head being carried away.

...

Point Sampson jetty is greatly damaged. All the springs and piles are damaged. Sixty piles altogether are gone. There is no chance of steamers coming alongside and all cargo will have to be lightered to Cossack. The tram line has been washed about on the two marshes, but otherwise is in fair order.

...

Later, 4.27 p.m.

The s.s. Bullarra, after a bad time, anchored in Cossack Roads about midday, having lost her funnel and some forty head of cattle. All else is safe. She is awaiting instructions from the Perth office of the Adelaide S.S. Co.

(From our own correspondent.)

Roebourne, March 25.

There was a severe blow at Port Hedland at 3 o'clock of the afternoon of the 20th inst. (Wednesday), when the s.s. Bullarra (Capt. Upjohn) left for Depuch Anchorage (Balla Balla) to pick up witnesses for the Whim Creek murder case. The weather was so bad that he put right out to sea. At five o'clock the weather was cyclonic and the vessel labored very heavily. At 2 o'clock on Thursday afternoon he took soundings and found a sandy bottom at 40 fathoms. At this time she rolled her funnel out, and could not keep her head up to the wind, so the captain put weather cloths in the after-rigging and on the after-sail to try and bring her up in the wind, but these were blown away twice. He then let go one anchor with 120 fathoms of anchor chain to bring the steamer's head up to the gale, which she then rode through. One hundred and ninety five bullocks were aboard, and forty of these were lost. There were also two passengers on board, but these are safe. When the weather cleared the boat was 27 miles north and 15 miles west of Legendre Island. The steamer is now lying off Point Samson effecting repairs. The captain intends building a galvanised smoke stack and proceeding on his voyage.

...

Balla Balla also had a very severe storm on Wednesday night, attended with great loss of life. The Crown of England, a barque loading copper from Whim Well mine, broke into pieces. The other vessel, the Concordia, is on the beach and there is every likelihood of re-floating her. A lighter, with fourteen witnesses on board for the murder case in Roebourne, was lost with all hands. The bodies of the wharfinger, Captain Maguinness, and of Mr F. T. J. Hill, licencee of the Federal Hotel at Whim Creek, have been recovered in the mangroves. The bodies of the chief steward and of the first mate of the Crown of England were also found floating in the sea. Several bodies were washed ashore on Depuch Island. Two Japanese were on the island for three days, but swam ashore this morning. Three luggers have been wrecked, namely the Karrakatta, belonging to Mr. Scanlan, the Clara C. Blackman, and the Spider belonging to Mr. Ellery.

The town of Port Hedland is believed to be a total wreck. The telegraph line has been down since the storm. The last information received from that town was on Friday afternoon, when the postmaster walked along the causeway and some eight miles out connected to Roebourne by the aid of a field instrument. This journey took him 7 1/2 hours to accomplish.

Not much damage was done at Whim Creek and at Roebourne. Nearly eight inches of rain fell at Whim Creek and over eight inches at Roebourne. The rain gauge at Cossack overflowed, so there must have been over 10 inches.

Later.

Captain Olsen, of the Crown of England, was brought to Balla Balla from Depuch Island this morning. He reports having buried six bodies on Depuch Island, all of them sailors belonging to the Crown of England.

Point Sampson jetty is greatly damaged. All the springs and piles are damaged. Sixty piles altogether are gone. There is no chance of steamers coming alongside and all cargo will have to be lightered to Cossack. The tram line has been washed about on the two marshes, but otherwise is in fair order.

Perth, March 25.

Reports from the telegraph stations on the North-West coast contain particulars of a terrific storm which raged on the 20th inst., the result of which was that several men lost their lives and some vessels were wrecked. Roebourne reports that a willy-willy raged at Balla Balla on Thursday and Friday and two large sailing ships which were loading ore and a lighter with seven witnesses on board for the murder case were wrecked. One of the ships was smashed and the other went ashore. Many lives were lost. The bodies recovered include that of Capt. Maguinness, the wharfinger, and Mr. Hill, a publican of Whim Creek. A few survivors can be seen on Depuch Island, which is adjacent. The Koombana is safe at Derby. All communication with the North is cut off. Nine inches of rain fell and there was the biggest flood for fourteen years. The Bullarra arrived at Cossack after a three days' journey from Port Hedland, instead of the usual ten hours. Her funnel was carried away and she drifted against full steam and both anchors down for 24 hours. All are safe. Whim Creek reports that the ship, Crown of England, brake in pieces, and eight men from her are missing. The bodies of the first mate and steward have been recovered. A cutter has been despatched to Depuch Island in search of survivors. Telegrams received by the Public Works Department indicate much damage to Point Sampson jetty and washaways on the Roebourne-Cossack railway. The telephone wires are down in every direction. There have been serious inundations on the Port Hedland foreshore. The effects of the storm were felt at Geraldton, and the roof of the police quarters at Mount Magnet was carried away. Meagre reports state that Port Hedland is in a bad way. Onslow and Broome escaped. At Balla, the lugger Clara was wrecked off Depuch on the 20th, and four colored men and one white are still missing. The luggers Karrakatta and another supposed to be the Britannia were anchored near the Clara and have not been seen since the blow. Two others which were also near have not been seen. Eleven bodies have been recovered.

SOME MORE DETAILS.

NAMES OF LOST WITNESSES.

Perth, Tuesday afternoon.

The latest particulars from Depuch Island state that 16 whites alone have been buried there, including Mr. Hill, Captain Maguinness, and Mr. Thompson. The latter, a surveyor, was found in the rigging of the lighter Clyo. Amongst the witnesses in the murder case, Kellerher, Shehan, Love, and Nagel are still missing. Two Japanese, who swam ashore from the lugger Clara reported that the boat, four members of the crew and the white mate, were all lost. All the Cossack luggers are believed to be safe. Only the edge of the storm struck Roebourne and very little damage was done. Eleven survivors have been brought to Balla Balla from Depuch.

SIMILAR HURRICANE AT LA GRANGE ON MARCH 6.

...

AB notes:

Bullarra's position when the weather cleared reported to be "27 miles north and 15 miles west of Legendre Island".

19c["Not Sighted", The West Australian, Thursday 28 March 1912, page 7]

NOT SIGHTED.

THE KOOMBANA'S FATE.

AN ANXIOUS DAY.

PORT HEDLAND SAFE.

THE BALLA BALLA BLOW.

FORTY DEATHS REPORTED.

RESTORING THE WIRES.

The Koombana is now a full week overdue on her journey from Port Hedland to Broome. Notwithstanding the active search from every point along the coast, no cheering message came through yesterday to allay the general anxiety. Rumours there were in plenty, both of sad portent and otherwise, but the result of the day's search revealed nothing to justify the turning of fear into thankfulness or hope into sorrow. Her whereabouts is a problem which can only be solved by the skippers of the boats which have been directed to steer out to the shoals and examine every inch of sea where there is even the most shadowy hope of finding the missing steamer. With a crew of 80 odd and an original passenger list of 47, there is a wealth of human life at stake which the Government and shipping companies are leaving no stone unturned to succour.

In shipping circles yesterday belief was still unbounded in regard to her being above the waves. That optimism, however, was clearly not shared by all. Among the many relatives and friends of those on board the suspense of the last seven days has produced an undeniable foreboding, and even the "man in the street" lost a little of his confidence regarding her safety. A finer skipper than Capt. Allen could not be wished for in command, but the most unerring judgment cannot always prevail against the elements. The wires have been tapping away incessantly during the last week, the circle of her possible whereabouts has been freighted with her code in wireless, "M.Z.P.," but still no word has come in reply. The fact that no ship has been able to pick her up may be discounted to an extent on account of the tempest probably having wrecked the Koombana's own means of wireless connection. The last seen of her was on March 20 at 1 p.m., when she was sighted by the Bullarra two hours out of Port Hedland, steering north-east, the gale then blowing from E.N.E. There are those who believe that she rode through the storm and was carried far out to sea, a breakdown of machinery having delayed her appearance in port. As shown in the information given below those in the best position to judge, and who are armed with the necessary knowledge, are unshaken in their allegiance to the belief that all is well. The public sincerely re-echoes the hope that it may be so. It is expected that within the next 24 or 48 hours some one or other of the luggers which have been out since the beginning of the week, or the steamers which are shaping their course in tracks where the missing steamer would probably go, will be able to communicate the news which the public is now awaiting. The reassuring information was wired to the Deputy Postmaster-General from Port Hedland yesterday that although the blow was severely felt there no damage has been done and no lives were lost. Advices from Port Hedland are still coming to Perth via Banjowangie and Adelaide, but it is hoped that the work of linking up the wires from Balla Balla to Port Hedland will be accomplished within a short time. The trouble is on the stretch between the Yule and Turner rivers. Up to Balla Balla communication, although interrupted, is well established. At the Turner River it is feared that a serious breakdown has occurred owing to the abnormal floods. The postmaster at Roebourne spoke to the line repairing party, which is working up from the south, at 9 o'clock yesterday morning. They reported that progress was necessarily slow, as the country is too boggy for horses, and they have been compelled to travel on foot most of the way. The Port Hedland postmaster reported at about noon that he had a party out working towards the south, but he could give no idea when it would be possible to restore communication. It depended on the rivers and the extent of the damage. He believed the lines were badly damaged at the Turner. Later this official advised that it would be impossible to restore the line on that day or even to-day. The men were doing their utmost, but were hampered by the flooded rivers. The postmaster at Port Hedland was advised to cable at once immediately anything was known of the Koombana, and to send a closing report in any case before leaving for the night. In reply the following message was received late last evening: No news of the Koombana. Luggers patrolling the coast. These messages also covered the information already given in our columns concerning the blow at Balla Balla. That town, it was stated, received the full force of the storm. They added that in all about 40 lives were lost in that vicinity. Mr. T. Carter (of Dalgety and Co.) states that although the absence of news concerning the Koombana is undoubtedly most disquieting, at the same time, nautical men think there is a possibility of the steamer being driven by the storm, and in difficulty at the Rowley shoals, which are at a point about 150 miles east of Cape Baskerville, or, in the contrary direction, at the Monte Bello group. The commander of the s.s. Gorgon at Java has been asked to deviate from his usual course and pass close to the Rowley shoals, while Captain Mills, of the s.s. Minderoo, will keep a keen look-out while passing the Monte Bello islands on his way from Onslow to Cossack, at which port further instructions will be forwarded to him. The Consul for Norway has received an other telegram from the captain of the Concordia, which went ashore on Depuch Island, to the effect that the vessel's plates had been strained and the rudder buckled.

AB notes:

Koombana's wireless identification given as 'MZP'.

The break in the telegraph line is reported to be between the Yule and Turner Rivers, with the country "too boggy for horses".