Dozens of fires in eastern Australia, at least one dead

At least one person died, dozens more were injured and more than 100 homes were destroyed in an unprecedented number of bushfires that continued to rage in eastern Australia on Saturday.

The body of a charred man was found in a car, said the New South Wales State Fire Department.

Overwhelmed firefighters acknowledged that they were struggling to cope with the most dangerous, eight in number, of the more than 100 outbreaks in rural Queensland (Northeast) and New South Wales (South East), from Brisbane to Sydney.

Tens were still out of control, despite the deployment of some 1,200 firefighters and 70 aircraft along a 1,000-kilometer stretch of land along the Pacific coast.

“For the moment, we are at least 100 homes destroyed yesterday in bushfires,” announced early Saturday morning the New South Wales fire services.

“There is no news of three people, more than 30 have been injured,” they added.

“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.

So far, no deaths have been reported, even though people have been trapped in their homes.

– 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.

Along the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, the police ordered the total evacuation of Tewantin, a suburb of about 4,500 inhabitants, before reconsidering its decision.

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.

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