Dozens of fires in eastern Australia, at least two dead

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At least two people died, dozens more were injured and more than 150 homes were destroyed in an unprecedented number of bushfires that continued raging in eastern Australia on Saturday.

The body of a charred man was found in a car and a woman died, despite efforts by doctors to save her for several hours, New South Wales State Relief Services said. .

Several people are also missing and 30 others were injured, mostly firefighters fighting the hundred fires in progress.

Given their magnitude, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that soldiers could lend a hand to the 1,300 firefighters present on site.

"Unfortunately, we lost two Australians and I fear we will lose more before the end of the day," Morrison said, as hundreds of civilians also volunteered to help their hard-hit neighbors.

The prime minister, whose government has downplayed the threat of climate change, has evaded questions about its effect. "My only thoughts today are with those who lost their lives and their families … (…) Australia has been fighting ferocious fires for as long as Australia is a nation, and well before. will continue to do so. "

For her part, New South Wales' Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian warned of the forecast for the coming week, "which would mean we did not get through the worst," she said. she says.

Overwhelmed firefighters acknowledged that they were struggling to cope with the most dangerous fires in rural Queensland (north-east) and New South Wales (south-east) around Brisbane. in Sydney.

Tens were still out of control along a 1,000-kilometer stretch of land along the Pacific coast.

At least 150 homes and schools were destroyed. The authorities were also forced to evacuate detention centers and old people's homes.

"We have never had so many fires at the same time and with such a high level of urgency," Shane Fitzsimmons, head of these services, told ABC Public Television.

"We are in unknown territory," he continued, recognizing that it was very difficult to cope with so many fires at a time.

Such fires occur every year on the huge island-continent during the spring and summer in Australia.

But this year, they have been extremely numerous and early. The first occurred in September from northern New South Wales to tropical Queensland.

If this start of the season is dramatic, scientists are worried for the next few months.

Climate change and adverse weather patterns have resulted in exceptional drought, low humidity, and strong winds that contribute to bush fires.

Difficult and dangerous day

Friday was a difficult and dangerous day, unfortunately many people called for help, but in the face of the magnitude and speed of the fires, we could not reach everyone, even by the road or helicopter, "said New South Wales firefighters.

The state authorities pointed out that the fires had passed through the containment zones and part of the Pacific Highway linking Sydney to Brisbane was closed.

In some areas, the population got stuck and was instructed to "look for shelter because it is too late to leave".

Local radios have stopped their programs to explain how to survive a fire in the event of people being stranded in their homes or vehicles.

Along the coast north and south of Sydney, residents posted videos and photos on social networks showing a sky filled with orange smoke and multi-storey eucalyptus engulfed in flames .

This region is the natural habitat of koalas, which feed on eucalyptus leaves, and hundreds of them may have died in the flames, say the authorities.

The strong winds and high temperatures currently prevailing in eastern Australia are expected to subside over the weekend and provide a respite from the fire front.

Australia announced this week the establishment of a financial aid program to combat the consequences of drought.

This phenomenon is a characteristic of Australia, but scientists consider that climate change aggravates this problem.

09/11/2019 09:02:52 –
Sydney (AFP) –
© 2019 AFP

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