Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed to pay "whatever it takes" to help victims of devastating bushfires in the country which have burned millions of hectares across three states.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Morrison committed an extra $1.4 billion to a new fund that will help rebuild damaged towns and infrastructure. But his government said that additional funds would be made available as needed.
"If more is needed and the cost is higher, then more will be provided," Morrison said.
His announcement came as another death in the state of New South Wales was confirmed, raising the death toll to 25. Officials in New South Whales said Monday that another person in the state was reported missing.
An estimated 2,000 homes have been destroyed as over a hundred fires continue to burn in the state. Official figures show the fires have destroyed an area about the size of Ireland, covering three Australian states.
Cooler temperatures and rain Monday brought some relief from the fires that firefighters have battled for weeks. New South Wales Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fizsimmons said the rain also presented challenges to strategic burns being carried out as the area prepares for higher temperatures this week.
Officials say the rains will not be enough to put out all the fires before hot, dry weather is forecast to return later in the week. They note that the country's fire season usually lasts through March.
Wildfires are common in the Southern Hemisphere during the summer, but fires this year in Australia began particularly early. Scientists have said there is no doubt that man-made climate change has contributed to the particularly devastating fires this year.
"We're in uncharted territory," New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. "We can't pretend that this is something that we have experienced before. It's not."
Morrison has been criticized for his handling of the fires, especially after traveling to Hawaii for a family vacation during the emergency. On Sunday, he said the blame game is unproductive and "now is the time to focus on the response that is being made."
Morrison has also been criticized for not adequately consulting local authorities before deploying 3,000 Australian Defense Force reservists to New South Wales in an effort to help combat the devastating fires. Morrison also committed $14 million to lease fire-fighting aircraft from other countries.
A Bushfire Recovery Agency has been established to help Australians recover from the disaster.
Pop star Pink and Australian actress Nicole Kidman have both pledged to donate $500,000 to support the fire-affected communities.