World

Aussie bush fires: New South Wales declares 7-day state of emergency

Australian state battling 100 'catastrophic' wildfires with help of US and Canada

PERTH : Australia's most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) declared a seven-day state of emergency yesterday as oppressive conditions fanned around 100 wildfires.

Around 2,000 firefighters were battling the blazes, half of which remain uncontrolled, with the support of US and Canadian backup teams and personnel from the Australian Defence Force.

The last state of emergency ran for seven days in mid-November amid "catastrophic" fire risk and was the first implemented in New South Wales since 2013.

Central Sydney reached a maximum of 39 deg C yesterday, while outer suburbs scorched at 42 deg C.

Australia itself rewrote the record books for the second time yesterday as the average national temperature hit 41.9 deg C, a full degree higher than the previous mark of 40.9 deg C set on Tuesday, officials said.

A statewide total fire ban announced on Tuesday will remain in place until midnight on Saturday.

Around 3 million ha of land has burnt nationwide during a torrid past few months, with six people killed and more than 800 homes destroyed.

The annual Australian fire season, which peaks during the Southern Hemisphere summer, started early after an unusually warm and dry winter.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the authorities were concerned with the unpredictable conditions.

"With extreme wind conditions, extreme hot temperatures, we have a good idea, a good sense, of where the most concerning areas are, but again when you've those turbulent conditions, embers and spot fires can occur very unpredictably," she told reporters.

HAZARDOUS

Sydney's air pollution levels yesterday ranged from poor to hazardous. During the past month, hazardous smoke has often blanketed Australia's most populous city and made its iconic skyline barely visible.

Hospitals have recorded a 10 per cent increase in visits from patients with respiratory conditions during the past week.

The Australian Medical Association has recommended people keep hydrated, cool and out of the sun.

Wildfires are also burning in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.- AP

WORLD