Raging wildfires trap 4,000 at Australian town’s waterfront; two confirmed dead

Share

"I was praying to God, praying to Jesus, turn the wind", David Geoffrey, owner of Mallacoota's Wave Oasis bed and breakfast, told Australia's ABC News.

It was too late to evacuate.

About 4,000 people were forced to gather on the foreshore or take to boats in the town of Mallacoota overnight and through much of the day as an out-of-control inferno bore down on the remote community.

"I have seen the impact and devastation of these fires first hand, but I have also seen communities pulling together, and caring for each other with a remarkable spirit", Morrison said.

Preparations were reportedly under way for a sea or airborne evacuation if needed.

People evacuating on boat in Mallacoota, Victoria, Australia are seen is this still image from a December 31, 2019 social media video.

Officials in Victoria issued an emergency warning for seaside towns on the southeastern coast over two bushfires.

Trump warns Russia, Syria, Iran against killing 'thousands of civilians'
President Donald Trump said that the United States would protect Syrian oil fields from ISIS. "We don't have many alternatives". The school building was used by people displaced by violence in other parts of the country, the Observatory and Khattab said.

"Originally I looked at some of the houses".

At 8 a.m. on Tuesday, more than 4,000 people in Mallacoota in the south-eastern corner of Victoria, took heed of a warning siren, and ran to be as close as they could to the seawater they thought was the only guaranteed protection against the encroaching flames. Do not be in their path.

Fires stretched from Gippsland in Victoria to Nowra, south of Sydney, on New Year's Eve, with emergency plans including heading into the ocean in some coastal towns.

Strong winds, lack of rain, and a historical heatwave have exacerbated Australia's bushfire crisis, spreading the fires with incredible speed.

A firefighter was killed on Monday when what authorities described as a "fire tornado" flipped the 10-ton truck he was in.

Just hours before the chime of midnight would signal the New Year, some 120 bushfires were still stubbornly burning, eight of which are at an emergency level.

Local media showed images of water bombers flying over neighbourhoods, and families hosing down their homes in the hope of halting the fire's spread.

Queen Elizabeth along with next three generations of kings prepare Christmas puddings
However, it is claimed that the Queen's husband was taken by helicopter after struggling with health problems in recent weeks. The queen has not altered her holiday routine and went to church on Sunday as normal.

In the neighboring state of New South Wales, where fires are also raging, two people were found dead Tuesday in the town of Cobargo, with a third person still unaccounted for.

"It's believed that the truck rolled when hit by extreme winds", the agency said in a tweet.

The country relies heavily on its volunteer firefighters, who in some cases have been putting in 16-hour days to help tackle the blazes.

In Mallacoota, four people were missing in the area, where more than half a million acres of forest have been burnt out and where the intense heat and smoke from fires has been creating localised storm systems. Weather conditions are expected to improve in the next 24 hours - meaning cooler temperatures and lower winds - but will worsen again by the end of the week, bringing unsafe fire conditions, according to CNN meteorologists.

The mercury has reached 47 degrees Celsius in Western Australia and topped 40 degrees in every region - including the usually temperate island of Tasmania.

It's too early to say how many homes have been lost in the area and in Victoria in general as numerous bushfires are still raging.

Prime minister Scott Morrison posted a video address expressing sympathy over the death on Monday of volunteer firefighter Samuel McPaul, 28.

US President Donald Trump says impeachment is 'a hoax'
The Republican governor did not vote for Trump in 2016, saying he didn't think Trump had the temperament for the job. But top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer blasted him for prejudging the case and rejecting the call for witnesses.

As New Year's celebrations approach, more than 250,000 people have signed a petition calling for Sydney's famed harbor New Year's fireworks display to be canceled and for the money to be spent fighting the fires.

Share