News / Asia

    Wildfires Rage Across Australia

    Smoke billows as a bushfire burns near Green Point in New South Wales, January 8, 2013.
    Smoke billows as a bushfire burns near Green Point in New South Wales, January 8, 2013.
    VOA News
    Wildfires continue to rage out of control across southeast Australia on Tuesday, with authorities warning of "catastrophic" conditions in some areas.

    Officials say more than 130 fires, many uncontained, are burning in the heavily populated New South Wales state, where temperatures reached 45 degrees and wind gusts reached more than 100 kilometers per hour.

    In the southern island of Tasmania, rescue officials are still trying to locate around 100 residents who have been missing after a fire tore through a village, destroying dozens of homes.

    No deaths have been reported, but officials warn Tuesday conditions have reached a "catastrophic" level, meaning fires will be uncontrollable and fast-moving, with evacuation the only safe option.

    State forests and national parks have been closed and total fire bans are in place, as authorities warned that an oppressive heat wave may not end in many parts of the country until later on Tuesday.

    Australian firefighters, using helicopters and planes, are battling the fires, which are ablaze in five of the country's six states.

    Wildfires are common during the Australian summer. In February of 2009, hundreds of fires across Victoria state killed 173 people and caused $4.4 billion worth of damage.

    • 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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