"Stay alert": millions of Australians brace for "catastrophic" bushfires

By Colin Packham SYDNEY (Reuters) - Residents across a wide swath of Australia's east coast were bracing for 'catastrophic' conditions on Tuesday, with searing heat and high winds expected to fan scores of already burning bushfires, threatening residential areas.

Reuters November 12, 2019 05:12:06 IST
"Stay alert": millions of Australians brace for "catastrophic" bushfires

quotStay alertquot millions of Australians brace for quotcatastrophicquot bushfires

By Colin Packham

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Residents across a wide swath of Australia's east coast were bracing for "catastrophic" conditions on Tuesday, with searing heat and high winds expected to fan scores of already burning bushfires, threatening residential areas.

Millions of people across two states are subject to a seven-day state of emergency that was imposed by officials on Monday, with locals in areas deemed most at risk urged to evacuate before the worst hits.

"We really need people to stay alert, stay informed, and stay safe and act in accordance with your plan and the advice that might be given out throughout the day," NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told reporters.

Sydneysiders woke up to a city shrouded in smoke. Officials have rated the harbour city at "catastrophic fire danger" for Tuesday, the first time it has received that designation since new fire danger ratings were introduced in 2009.

Home to more than 5 million people, Sydney is ringed by large areas of bushland, much of which remains tinder dry following little rain across the country's east coast in recent months.

Bushfires are a common and deadly threat in Australia’s hot, dry summers, but the current severe outbreak - across several parts of New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland states, as well as Sydney - weeks before the summer peak, has caught many by surprise.

Lawmakers and firefighters in NSW, where temperatures were expected to reach 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) said they were prepared, but warned there was only so much they could do.

"We are planned, we are escalated to a high level of standby and readiness," Fitzsimmons said.

There were 54 fires ablaze across the state, around half of which were uncontained, Fitzsimmons said, adding around 3,000 firefighters were deployed or on standby.

"We are not going to control fires under catastrophic conditions," he said. "They have the ability to develop and grow extremely quickly and develop into very large fires."

Seeking to avoid deaths, firefighters have been given broad powers to control government resources, force evacuations, close roads and shut down utilities.

Around 600 schools and colleges were closed as a precaution and authorities advised anyone suffering respiratory conditions to stay indoors.

In Queensland state, the danger was not quite as great, with the threat level pegged at "severe", two levels below the "catastrophic" conditions in NSW. Still, some 22 fires were burning across the northern state.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; editing by Jane Wardell)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Aurora Cannabis plans more layoffs, facility closures amid industry turmoil
Business

Aurora Cannabis plans more layoffs, facility closures amid industry turmoil

By Arunima Kumar (Reuters) - Aurora Cannabis on Tuesday announced a new round of staff reductions and plans to shut five facilities over the next two quarters, as the COVID-19 pandemic pummels the cash-crunched cannabis industry. For most marijuana companies in Canada, which legalized recreational cannabis in October 2018, profits have proven elusive due to fewer-than-expected retail stores, cheaper rates on the black market and slow overseas growth. The industry has been further hit by the COVID-19 crisis, which has also upended financial markets, making it harder to get investor dollars

India levies charge on some steel imports from China, Korea, Vietnam
Business

India levies charge on some steel imports from China, Korea, Vietnam

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India has imposed an anti-dumping duty on flat rolled steel products that are plated or coated with alloy of aluminium and zinc originating in, or from China, Vietnam and South Korea, according to a government order https://www.cbic.gov.in/resources//htdocs-cbec/customs/cs-act/notifications/notfns-2020/cs-add2020/csadd16-2020.pdf issued on Tuesday. The duty will be in the range of $13.07-$173.10 per tonne for 5 years, according to the statement

Gold vaults to highest since October 2012 as dollar stumbles
Business

Gold vaults to highest since October 2012 as dollar stumbles

By Diptendu Lahiri (Reuters) - Gold prices surged to their highest since October 2012 on Tuesday, driven by a weakness in the U.S. dollar and widespread monetary stimulus packages by central banks as a jump in coronavirus cases dents the economic outlook