«Catastrophic» fire prompts state of emergency in east Australia
SYDNEY. KAZINFORM - The premier of New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, declared a state of emergency on Monday, amid unprecedented bushfires burning across the country's east coast and «catastrophic» fire conditions forecast for Tuesday, Kyodo reports.
Three people were confirmed dead and more than 150 homes gutted in northern New South Wales, and the state of Queensland to the north, over the weekend.
Authorities in Queensland declared a state of fire emergency on Sunday.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian described the fires as «some of the most devastating» the state has ever seen.
«With catastrophic weather conditions predicted for this week, particularly Tuesday with hot weather and strong winds, I have decided to take the (Rural Fire Service) commissioner's advice and make this declaration,» she said.
For the first time since fire danger ratings were introduced in 2009, authorities forecast «catastrophic weather conditions» -- the highest level of bush fire danger -- for the greater Sydney region and surrounding areas, including the World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains Area.
While bushfires are a common occurrence in Australia, this year's season has begun uncommonly early, with a prolonged drought across the country's east coast exacerbating the problem.
According to the Rural Fire Service, more than 60 fires are still burning across New South Wales.