Australia ablaze: bushfires hit Victoria and New South Wales

PM Gillard blames global warming for extreme heat which is plunging nation into danger

LAST UPDATED AT 09:54 ON Tue 8 Jan 2013

AUSTRALIA is suffering a devastating spread of bushfires as temperatures rise to a dangerous 54C – and the Prime Minister has put the blame on climate change.

Tasmania bushfires – in pictures

After Tasmania suffered severe bushfires over the weekend, soaring temperatures on the mainland have led to blazes breaking out in the more heavily populated mainland states of Victoria and New South Wales, reports The Times.

Tuesday will see temperatures peaking at 54C – so high that fire officials admit they cannot extinguish blazes under those conditions. The scorching heat, combined with winds of up to 50 mph, have combined to create disastrous fire conditions.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said heatwaves are going to become more commonplace due to global warming, The Independent reports.
"We do know over time that as a result of climate change we are going to see more extreme weather events and conditions,” she said.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service reported today that 1,126 fire fighters and 63 aircraft were battling 140 fires across the state, of which 40 were out of control. Of the 21 regions in NSW, five have been given the highest danger rating of 'catastrophic' - which signifies that if a fire gets out of control it is unlikely it can be contained, even by the most sophisticated fire-fighting techniques.

There have been no confirmed deaths yet, but around 100 residents of the small coastal town of Dunalley on Tasmania remained unaccounted for as 40 bushfires continue to burn across the island state.

Tasmania's acting police commissioner, Scott Tilyard said: "Until we've had the opportunity to do all the screening that we need to do we can't say for certain that there hasn't been a human life lost as a result of these fires."

There is a real fear that the current conditions across Australia will prove to be as fatal as those which killed 173 people on Black Saturday in Victoria in February 2009. · 

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TYPO alert - I think that you will find the temperature alert was 45C, not 54C which is ...

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