World

Aussie woman goes viral after saving koala from fire

Video shows her running into flames to save defenceless animal, which has a 50-50 chance of survival

SYDNEY: She was driving past a bush fire in Port Macquarie, New South Wales when she saw a koala bear surrounded by flames. Putting aside all thoughts of danger, Ms Toni Doherty ran out to help.

"It was terrifying to see him just come out of the flames and he looked so defenceless running along the road," Ms Doherty told 9News.

"I knew I needed to put something around him as I ran to the tree, so I just took off my shirt and covered him with it. I just tried to get him out of the fire, it was so hot and so frightening."

The video of the rescue has gone viral.

The koala, whom Ms Doherty named Lewis after one of her seven grandchildren, suffered terrible burns.

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital told 9News on Wednesday that Lewis has only a 50-50 chance of survival.

More than 350 koalas have been killed in the bush fires in New South Wales and several people have blamed climate change for the disaster.

Yesterday, Australia's Prime Minister denied his climate policies had caused unprecedented bush fires ravaging the country and insisted his government was doing enough to tackle global warming, AFP reported.

SMOKE

As blazes that have scorched swathes of countryside continued to spread and the country's largest city was cloaked in hazardous smoke, conservative leader Scott Morrison defended his climate record, saying Australia was "doing our bit".

"The suggestion that any way shape or form that Australia - accounting for 1.3 per cent of the world's emissions... are impacting directly on specific fire events, whether it is here or anywhere else in the world, that doesn't bear up to credible scientific evidence," he told ABC radio.

Unseasonably hot, dry and windy conditions have fuelled the unprecedented blazes. Scientists believe many of those factors are made worse by rising global temperatures.

Yesterday, bush fires burned across every region of Australia with residents in Victoria warned to leave high-risk areas as the mercury hit 40.9 deg C. Officials in New South Wales said more than 600 homes have been destroyed, AFP reported.

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