16 dead as Australia struggles to contain raging bushfires
File photo of firefighters battling bushfires near Taree, New South Wales, Australia, on November 11, 2019. Xinhua/Bai Xuefei/IANS

16 dead as Australia struggles to contain raging bushfires

Sydney, January 2, 2020

Three more people lost their lives in the raging Australian bushfires on Wednesday, bringing the total number of deaths since October to 16 in deadly blazes that have forced thousands to seek refuge due to the worst fire crisis that has hit the country in decades.

"Police have confirmed a further three deaths as a result of the fires on the South Coast," New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys told reporters in Sydney.

Worboys said a person also remained unaccounted for in the state, the Efe news reported.

The fires have also destroyed dozens of homes and left three people wounded in the state that has been battling the deadly inferno since September 2019.

Firefighters are trying to control the flames before Saturday when the temperature is expected to touch the 40 degrees Celsius mark.

Some 50,000 homes were said to be without power on the south coast of New South Wales, the worst affected state where some 2,500 firefighters are currently battling over 100 blazes raging across the province.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, told reporters that military aid, food, water, and fuel have been sent to areas affected by fires in the state.

Military helicopters and navy ships have been deployed to assist in the evacuation of thousands of people trapped on a beach in the town of Mallacoota, located in East Gippsland in the extreme southeast of Victoria that shares a border with New South Wales.

On Wednesday, two Black Hawk and Taipan helicopters were sent to the disaster zone, while two Chinooks were also expected to arrive on Friday to aid in the operation.

The choppers will help firefighters in evacuations, as well as in the transport of food, fuel, and medicines to remote communities isolated by fires.

The raging bushfires in Australia, one of the worst in recent decades, have burned over 3 million hectares since last September.

The current wave of fires began before the start of the southern summer, which commences in December and could continue for months, with high temperatures and a shortage of rain expected until March.

IANS

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