Southeastern Australia has endured some of the hottest temperatures in
a century, which have fanned fires that have destroyed homes and
strained emergency power and transport services. At least 20 people may
have died from heat stroke as temperatures soared past 46 degrees
Celsius in some areas for a third consecutive day. Hundreds of
thousands of homes and businesses are without electricity.
More than a dozen homes have been lost as bushfires burn across parts of the southern Australian state of Victoria.
flames have been fuelled by a vicious cocktail of strong winds, low
humidity and scorching temperatures. It's thought some outbreaks have
been started deliberately by arsonists.
Residents in the fire
zone have felt the sheer brutality of nature. "It's probably a little
like a war zone without the bullets," said a resident.
fire ball ripped through," said another one. "It's burned down our
neighbour's house. It started to burn down our house and my husband got
out of there. He went back this morning and nearly everything, all the
houses are gone."
Towns and cities across southeastern Australia including Adelaide have sweltered in furnace-like conditions.
explosion at an electrical substation in Melbourne saw the rail network
fall into chaos and power was lost to 500,000 homes and businesses.
To make matters worse, railway lines have buckled as temperatures reached record highs, leaving commuters stranded.
fear that several elderly people may have died due to the heat wave,
after 22 "sudden deaths" in Adelaide on Friday. Autopsies will
determine whether the victims' fatal heart attacks and strokes were
related to the heat.
Officials have advised people to drink
plenty of water, stay indoors and refrain from consuming alcohol and
taking part in strenuous exercise.
The scorching weather has
played havoc with the Australian Open Tennis Tournament, with several
tennis stars forced to retire in the exhausting conditions.
unusual warm spell has been caused by a high pressure system over the
Tasman Sea that is pushing warm and dry northerly winds over the
southeastern corner of the Australian continent.
temperatures have eased slightly in the last 24 hours, the region's
hottest period since 1908 seems set to continue. More unpleasantly hot
weather is forecast in the week ahead.