World

Australia bushfires: Country braces for ‘difficult day’

Animals on Kangaroo Island with a bushfire behind them Image copyright Paul Stanton / Reuters
Image caption On Kangaroo Island, South Australia, people have slept next to the water after the fire cut off the town of Kingscote

Australia is bracing itself for another day of bushfires with high temperatures and strong winds predicted.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned Friday would be “a difficult day in the eastern states”. Authorities urged people in parts of Victoria to leave their homes or risk being trapped.

Bushfires in the country have destroyed more than 10.3 million hectares of land in recent months.

At least 27 people have died since September.

Mr Morrison said “We are a long way from the end of this crisis and this disaster.” He added that two ships remain off the coast of New South Wales (NSW) ready to evacuate towns if needed.

More than one hundred bushfires are still burning along the NSW – Victoria border.

Temperatures in Victoria could reach 40C in some parts of the state including East Gippsland which has already seen huge bushfires. However temperatures are not expected to be as high as last weekend.

Daniel Andrews, premier of Victoria, said residents choosing to stay in high risk areas would be jeopardising their own safety.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Temperatures in East Gippsland are set to reach 40C on Friday

In NSW, the state’s Rural Fire Service has warned of “very high, severe and extreme fire dangers.”

Fires in the state have destroyed about 1,000 homes since the New Year.

The NSW government has announced A$1 billion (£524 million) to help rebuild towns destroyed by bushfires. The funding is in addition to the A$2 billion announced by the federal government.

On Thursday, a waterbombing helicopter crashed into a reservoir in the Bega Valley Shire region as it was refilling there. The pilot, contracted by the Rural Fire Service survived.

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Media captionThe orphaned Australian baby bats wrapped with love

On Kangaroo Island in South Australia, the town of Kingscote has been cut off by the fires. Roads out of the town are closed and some people have spent the night sleeping close to the water’s edge. Two emergency warnings are currently in place.

An estimated 25,000 koalas were killed when flames devastated Kangaroo Island last week.

Australia saw its hottest and driest year on record in 2019 due to two specific weather phenomena and climate change, the Bureau of Meteorology said on Thursday.

Authorities have warned that the huge fires, spurred by high temperatures, wind and a three-year-drought, will persist until there is substantial rainfall.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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