News / Asia

Australian Prime Minister Tours Fire-Ravaged Tasmania

An aerial photo shows a view of Dunalley after a wildfire destroyed around 80 buildings in and around the small town, east of the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, Australia, January 5, 2013.
An aerial photo shows a view of Dunalley after a wildfire destroyed around 80 buildings in and around the small town, east of the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, Australia, January 5, 2013.
VOA News
Australia's prime minister has toured the southern island of Tasmania, where four days of wildfires have damaged or destroyed hundreds of structures and left around a hundred people missing.

Australian firefighters, using helicopters and planes, are still battling the blazes on Tasmania, where the fires flared Friday after a record summer heat wave  pushed temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius.  

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who flew to Tasmania Monday, warned that the state of New South Wales, including the capital of Sydney, also would experience extreme heat Tuesday, when the wildfire risk would be high.  Similar hot and windy conditions are forecast for the neighboring state of Victoria.

Emergency workers are searching for about 100 people who are missing in the fire area.  There have been not yet been any confirmed reports of deaths.

Wildfires are common during the Australian summer.  In February of 2009, hundreds of fires across Victoria state killed 173 people.

  • Wildfire smoke rises from hills behind the village of Numeralla in New South Wales state, Australia, January 8, 2013.
  • Smoke rises from the Yarrabin bushfire, burning out of control near Cooma, about 100 kilometers south of Canberra, Australia, January 8, 2013.
  • Police Rescue Helicopter crewman Matthew Drumm looks at a wildfire in Dunalley, east of Hobart, Australia, January 5, 2013.
  • Houses destroyed by a wildfire are seen in ruins in Dunalley, east of Hobart, Australia, January 5, 2013.
  • Houses destroyed by a wildfire are seen in ruins in Dunalley, east of Hobart, Australia, January 5, 2013.
  • Smoke from a wildfire billows over beach goers at Carlton, east of Hobart, Australia, January 4, 2013.
  • Smoke from wildfires is seen east of Hobart in the Australian island state of Tasmania January 4, 2013.

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