Tuesday 12 November 2019

At least three dead, 'more bad news expected' as New South Wales hit by 'apocalyptic' fires

  • At least three people are dead, several remain missing and dozens injured in wildfires
  • Fires continue to raze Australia's drought-stricken east coast
  • Officials also said more than 150 homes have been destroyed
Firefighters tackle a bushfire to save a home in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019 as they try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP) (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Firefighters tackle a bushfire to save a home in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019 as they try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP) (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)

Giovanni Torre

At least three people are dead, several remain missing and dozens have been injured as wildfires continue to raze Australia's drought-stricken east coast.

The Australian state of New South Wales was in the grip of an unprecedented bushfire crisis last night, with almost 50 fires still raging out of control despite the efforts of 1,200 firefighters and 70 firefighting planes.

Officials also said more than 150 homes have been destroyed.

Firefighters found a body on Saturday in a burned car near Glen Innes, about 570 kilometres north of Sydney, he said.

NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW personnel conduct property protection as a bushfire burns in Woodford NSW, Australia, November 8, 2019. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts/via REUTERS
NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW personnel conduct property protection as a bushfire burns in Woodford NSW, Australia, November 8, 2019. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts/via REUTERS

A woman who was found on Friday unconscious and with serious burns near Glen Innes had died in hospital, he said.

Another seven people have been reported missing in the vicinity of the same fire.

A fire bombing helicopter works to contain a bushfire along Old Bar road in Old Bar, New South Wales, Australia November 9, 2019. AAP Image/Shane Chalker/via REUTERS
A fire bombing helicopter works to contain a bushfire along Old Bar road in Old Bar, New South Wales, Australia November 9, 2019. AAP Image/Shane Chalker/via REUTERS
A firefighter on property protection watches the progress of bushfires in Old Bar, New South Wales, Australia November 9, 2019. AAP Image/Shane Chalker/via REUTERS
A resident watches the progress of bushfires near houses in Old Bar, New South Wales, Australia November 9, 2019. AAP Image/Shane Chalker/via REUTERS
Firefighters work to contain a bushfire along Old Bar road in Old Bar, New South Wales, Australia, November 9, 2019. AAP Image/Shane Chalker/via REUTERS
A fire bombing helicopter works to contain a bushfire along Old Bar road in Old Bar, New South Wales, Australia, November 9, 2019. AAP Image/Shane Chalker/via REUTERS
Children help distribute toothbrushes and amenities as residents take refuge at a local club in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales.
Residents take refuge at a local club in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Residents take refuge at a local club in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Residents take refuge at a local club in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Bushfires burn in the distance as children play on a beach in Forster, 300km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Bushfires burn in the distance as children play on a beach in Forster, 300km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales.(Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Bushfires burn in the distance as children play on a beach in Forster, 300km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Firefighters tackle a bushfire to save a home in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019 as they try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP) (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Firefighters tackle a bushfire to save a home in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019 as they try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP) (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Firefighters tackle a bushfire to save a home in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019 as they try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales.(Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP) (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Firefighters tackle a bushfire to save a home in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019 as they try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)

The fires cast an ominous orange glow over large areas of eastern New South Wales, (NSW) with locals describing the scene as "apocalyptic".

At one point during the day there were more than 90 fires burning in the state with 57 out of control and 17 considered "emergency level". There were also two emergency level fires in southern Queensland.

Firefighters tackle a bushfire to save a home in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019 as they try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP) (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Firefighters tackle a bushfire to save a home in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019 as they try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP) (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)

Both states have been plagued by severe drought, and while some parts of New South Wales had rain last weekend, it was not widespread enough to mitigate the damage done by months of historically poor rainfall, making this fire season more dangerous than usual.

Shane Fitzsimmons, the NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner, said almost 1,200 firefighters and 70 aircraft had been deployed "to save as many people as possible", with around 92,000 people affected. It described the situation as "uncharted territory".

Bushfires burn in the distance as children play on a beach in Forster, 300km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Bushfires burn in the distance as children play on a beach in Forster, 300km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned Australia to expect more bad news from the fire zones.

The annual Australian fire season which peaks during the Southern Hemisphere summer has started early after an unusually warm and dry winter.

Residents take refuge at a local club in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Residents take refuge at a local club in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)

Additional reporting: PA

Residents take refuge at a local club in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Residents take refuge at a local club in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales. (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Children help distribute toothbrushes and amenities as residents take refuge at a local club in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales.
Children help distribute toothbrushes and amenities as residents take refuge at a local club in Taree, 350km north of Sydney on November 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes that are raging in the state of New South Wales.

Irish Independent

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