As hundreds of bushfires still continued to rage in Australia, amid “catastrophic” conditions in the south of the country that claimed another life on Saturday.
The states of New South Wales (NSW), Victoria and South Australia are facing more than 200 fires fanned by Saturday’s strong winds and temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius, Efe news reported.
The highest temperature recorded was 48.9 degrees in Penrith, west Sydney.
NSW Premier Gladys Berijiklian confirmed that one person had died due to cardiac arrest while defending a neighbour’s home near Batlow town, some 460 km southeast of Sydney.
Saturday’s casualty took the bushfire death toll since September to 22, 13 of them since the last week of 2019.
“Our immediate focus today isn’t just on containing and controlling and protecting life, it’s also to focus on recovery,” Berijiklian told the media, adding that there were many displaced people.
PM Scott Morrison said, “This is taking a very heavy toll,” adding to it that more than 1,500 homes lost to fires across the country since September.
On Friday, PM Morrison said that he was inclined to cancel an official trip to India planned for this month in order to deal with a bushfire crisis ravaging parts of his country.
About 4,000 people in the town of Mallacoota in Victoria headed to the waterfront after the main road was cut off.
Earlier, the New South Wales (NSW) state had declared a state of emergency, with bushfire conditions expected to worsen over the coming days as a record-breaking heatwave sweeps across the country.
In November, New South Wales’ Rural Fire Service said Thursday morning there were about 60 fires active, with 30 of them uncontained in the state where some 1,200 firefighters tried to mitigate the flames in the face of worsening conditions, such as rising temperatures and wind.
Bushfires have burnt through about 900,000 hectares of land in Victoria, with 700,000 of those hectares razed in East Gippsland.
In the NSW coastal town of Eden, hundreds of people were weighing up the advice of authorities to evacuate.
(With inputs from agency)