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Aus PM Scott Morrison announces national inquiry into bushfires

More than three-quarters of Australian adults were affected by the nation’s bushfire crisis.

SNS Web | New Delhi |

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday announced a national inquiry into the devastating bushfires that claimed the lives of at least 33 people, killed millions of animals and destroyed thousands of home.

The Royal Commission into the bushfires was on signed-off by Governor-General David Hurley, Xinhua news agency reported.

Former Australian Defence Force (ADF) chief Mark Binskin, former Federal Court judge Annabelle Bennett and a specialist in climate risk and impact management Professor Andrew Macintosh from the Australian National University (ANU) have been appointed as commissioners and given until the end of August to submit their findings.

Morrison said that the inquiry will focus on improving Australia’s preparedness for natural disasters, improving natural disaster coordination and the federal government’s role in responding to national emergencies and how it cooperates with state and territory governments.

“My priority is to keep Australians safe and to do that, we need to learn from the Black Summer bushfires how nationally we can work better with the states and territories to better protect and equip Australians for living in hotter, drier and longer summers,” he said.

More than three-quarters of Australian adults were affected by the nation’s bushfire crisis.

The poll asked a nationally representative sample of more than 3,000 Australians about their experiences and exposure to the recent extensive bushfires across the nation.

Last week, all the blazes in Australia’s hard-hit state of New South Wales have been brought under control, signalling the end of a months-long crisis that claimed 33 lives nationwide, the firefighters said.

Earlier this month, according to the forecast, thunderstorm activity or the formation of mesoscale lows embedded within the coastal trough was possible.

Last month, a massive bushfire in the Orroral Valley south of Canberra was sparked by an Australian Defence Force (ADF) helicopter.

With severe flooding blanketing several north coast areas of the state, the NSW Emergency Service (SES) said they had received over 600 calls for assistance already.

On January 19, the Bureau of Meteorology in Victoria issued severe thunderstorm warnings for parts of the state and said that damaging winds and heavy rainfall were expected.

Earlier, hundreds of Australians were arrested for deliberately starting the devastating bushfires since September.

The impact of the bushfires has spread beyond affected communities, with heavy smoke engulfing the country’s second-largest city Melbourne and the national capital Canberra. Some government departments were shut in Canberra as the city’s air quality was once-again ranked the world’s poorest, according to independent online air-quality index monitor Air Visual.

The disaster has sparked growing public anger with Morrison. Rallies are planned on Friday to call on his government to step up efforts to tackle climate change, which experts say have helped fuel the fires.

(With inputs from agency)