Sydney, Australia – The state of Victoria in southeastern Australia on Thursday extended the state of disaster due to bushfires and urged the people to evacuate danger zones before the situation became more complicated in the coming days.
The move, which gives more powers to the authorities to take possession of private property and order evacuations, was adopted in the wake of predictions of increase in temperatures to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and strong winds, which could aggravate the around active fires in the state.
“It’s always difficult to predict how challenging the next couple of days will be but with so much fire in the landscape with such a massive fire edge, with hot weather and significant winds, there’s every reason to think we are going to have more fire today and, of course, tomorrow and potentially right into the weekend,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told the media.
The authorities urged the residents of areas falling under the disaster to evacuate, including the Alpine area and the municipality of East Gippsland in southeastern Victoria, where the fires have caused three deaths and burned 244 homes since the New Year.
Other areas of the country were also making adequate preparations against forecasts of the fires worsening in the coming hours.
In Kangaroo Island, Australia’s third-largest island, authorities advised residents of Vivonne Bay to take refuge in designated shelters to protect themselves from fires, which have left two dead and burned 160,000 hectares of land.
In the state of New South Wales, the worst affected, some 2,500 firefighters have been working to contain some 122 fires, half of them out of control.
The state government announced $1 billion Australian dollars ($687 million) for the reconstruction of affected communities, which comes in addition to the AU$2 billion announced earlier this week by the federal government.
The fires have caused a total 26 deaths since September, 20 of them in New South Wales, where 1,870 of the more than 2,000 homes that have burned down across the country are situated.
The fire season began unusually early in spring, in a year that was listed as the hottest and driest in Australia, according to a report by the country’s Bureau of Meteorology.
“Unfortunately the outlook is not indicating a widespread return to wetter than average conditions over drought and fire affected parts of eastern Australia,” said the Bureau’s Manager of Climate Monitoring, Karl Braganza. EFE-EPA
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