Three Americans have died after a water tanker plane crashed in a fireball while fighting bushfires in southeastern Australia. All three of the C-130 Hercules plane’s crew were killed when it went down near Peak View, in Australia’s alpine region, close to a blaze burning out of control in the Wadbilliga National Park, the fire service said.
Parts of southeastern Australia are being pelted by hailstones the size of golf balls, big enough to smash car windows and injure birds, less than 24 hours after the region was hit by massive dust storms. The hailstorms arrived in the national capital Canberra on Monday afternoon, covering the ground with white balls of ice and leaves that have been stripped from trees.
Scott Morrison has suffered a massive hit to his personal approval rating and been overtaken as preferred prime minister by Anthony Albanese. The Newspoll, published on Monday, confirms that a horror summer in which Morrison chose to holiday in Hawaii during the extended bushfire crisis that has claimed 28 lives and more than 2,000 homes, and fumbled meetings with victims, has significantly impacted his popularity.
Hundreds of people have been rescued from beaches and tens of thousands have been told to evacuate with more hot weather and strong winds set to worsen Australia’s devastating bushfires. With over 200 fires already burning, and more predicted, the country’s navy launched what has been billed as the largest peacetime evacuation in Australia’s history. Thousands have already fled at-risk coastal areas, creating traffic gridlock in places.
Large crowds thronged Sydney harbor on Tuesday to watch Australia’s famous New Year’s Eve fireworks, even as smoke from deadly wildfires turned skies in nearby coastal towns blood-red. The planned spectacle is going ahead despite calls from some members of the public for the fireworks to be canceled, in solidarity with fire-hit areas in New South Wales (NSW) of which Sydney is the capital city.
Scores of fires are burning out of control across Australia amid a heatwave that has seen temperatures exceed 40C (104F) in every state. The most dangerous fires on Monday were in the state of Victoria. About 30,000 residents and tourists were urged to flee East Gippsland, but evacuations were later deemed too risky as fires encroached on major roads. A volunteer firefighter died battling a blaze in the state of New South Wales.
A heatwave forecast to sweep across Australia in coming days could escalate conditions for the nation’s bushfires, authorities fear. Temperatures are set to hit over 40C (104F) from Friday in several bushfire-affected states including New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. There are more than 100 fires burning, with the largest to the west of Sydney.
Bushfires in Australia are now burning in five different states, with emergency services warning that at least 60 fires are out of control. New South Wales (NSW), which last week was paralyzed by a seven-day state of emergency amid “catastrophic” conditions, accounts for more than half of the fires. Adelaide is forecast to reach 39C (102.2F), according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a rare public apology on Friday and cut short a Hawaiian vacation in response to mounting public anger after two volunteer firefighters were killed battling bushfires sweeping the country’s east coast. Some areas of Sydney are set for “catastrophic” conditions on Saturday, and the deadly fires are now engulfing other parts of the country.
Australia set its hottest day on record on Tuesday as a deadly heatwave continues to grip the country, fuelling fires and prompting widespread health warnings. The average maximum temperature across the country on Tuesday was 40.9C (105.62F) – tipping it past the record set in January 2013. The small town of Oodnadatta is forecast to peak at 47C (116.6F) on Wednesday, making it one of the hottest places on Earth.