Australia bushfires: Sydney area faces ‘catastrophic’ threat

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The fires have also destroyed homes and property

Australia is warning of a “catastrophic” bushfire threat to its largest city Sydney and surrounding areas on Tuesday.

Residents in vulnerable communities are being urged to leave and seek shelter in shopping centres.

At least three people are dead and thousands have been displaced by a weekend of bushfires in Australia.

On Sunday more than 100 blazes were still burning across New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison – who was heckled by a climate change protester as he briefed reporters – refused to be drawn on whether climate change could have contributed to the fires.

“My only thoughts today are with those who have lost their lives and their families,” he said.

What is the threat to Sydney?

Sydney is facing potentially catastrophic conditions for the first time since new fire warnings were introduced a decade ago. The Hunter region to the north is also at risk.

“Unprecedented” bushfires turn skies orange

Temperatures are expected to reach 37C in the city on Tuesday. Conditions are expected to be worse than on Friday, when the firestorms began tearing through parts of eastern Australia.

“Under these conditions, these fires will spread quickly and threaten homes and lives,” NSW Rural Fire Service said in a statement.

Schools in vulnerable areas will be closed and firefighters from New Zealand have been flown in to help as weary emergency crews prepare for a fresh onslaught.

Fires in Bobin, 350km north of Sydney, on 9 November
More than 100 fires are raging across NSW and Queensland

Mr Morrison says the military could also be called upon to support the 1,300 firefighters working in the two states.

Hundreds of civilians have also volunteered to help in affected areas.

What’s the latest?

In Queensland, thousands of people spent the night in evacuation centres while officials assessed whether it was safe for them to return home.

Fire officials in NSW have confirmed that more than 150 homes have been destroyed.

Two firefighters were injured when a tree fell onto their truck in the Nambucca Heads area of NSW, officials said. They were treated at the scene and transferred to hospital in a stable condition.

Blaze in Harrington north of Sydney on 8 November
Thousands of people have been driven from their homes

Although cooler weather on Saturday night provided some reprieve, it is feared that high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds forecast from the middle of the week will fuel further fires that officials will be unable to contain.

Who were the victims?

While clearing affected areas on Friday, fire crews discovered the body of one victim in a burned out car near Glen Innes, about 550km (340 miles) north of Sydney.

In the same town on the same day, a woman was found suffering from severe burns. She was rushed to hospital but died shortly afterwards.

Satellite image showing smoke rising from fires along Australia's east coast

Carol Sparks, the mayor of Glen Innes, said on Sunday that the town’s residents were traumatised.

Source: BBC News

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