Australia and Oceania

Fire-hit Australian farmers vow to rise from the ashes

by Glenda KWEK BATLOW, Australia Steve Bellchambers is digging pits to bury the carcasses of livestock killed by bushfires which swept through his farm in Batlow, New South Wales. He is one of several dozen residents who remained in the southeastern Australian town to protect his animals as authorities urged everyone to leave last week, calling the place “undefendable”. Bellchambers lost his home and many of his animals — some he was forced to shoot […]

Australia bushfires flare as heatwave brings renewed misery

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Bushfires flared in southern Australia on Thursday as a heatwave expected to bring renewed misery set in, and officials warned some areas are “just at the beginning” of the devastating crisis. Soldiers went door-to-door advising residents to leave the South Australian town of Parndana on Kangaroo Island after a large blaze bore down on the area, with temperatures there soaring to 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). In neighboring Victoria state, […]

Australians urged to ‘leave early’ in face of new bushfire threat

  by Holly ROBERTSON Agence France Presse SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australian officials issued fresh evacuation warnings Wednesday ahead of a forecast spike in the intensity of out-of-control bushfires that have devastated vast swathes of countryside and sent smoke clouds as far away as Brazil. Residents of Victoria state’s fire-ravaged east were urged to leave before another heatwave raises the bushfire danger Friday, while in South Australia state authorities began relocating people from a small […]

Australia firefighters race to contain blazes as heatwave looms

  by Andrew BEATTY Agence France Presse Firefighters raced to contain massive bushfires in southeastern Australia Tuesday, taking advantage of a brief drop in temperatures and some much-needed rainfall before another heatwave strikes later this week. Exhausted volunteers cleared ground vegetation and carried out controlled burns before temperatures and winds were expected to pick up again by Friday. “It really is about shoring up protection to limit the damage potential and the outbreak of the […]

Tropical Cyclone Blake forms over northern Australia

SYDNEY, Australia  (AFP) — A tropical cyclone formed off the northwestern coast of Australia Monday, threatening the town of Broome with destructive 125 kilometers (80 miles) per hour winds, meteorologists said. Tropical Cyclone Blake became category one storm with sustained winds of 75 kilometers (47 miles) per hour and was expected to strengthen to a category two early Tuesday when it skirts the town of 14,000 people. The Bureau of Meteorology warned residents to “prepare for […]

Fire-hit Australia gets $1.4bn recovery fund as troops deployed

by Glenda KWEK SYDNEY, Australia  (AFP) — Reserve troops fanned out across fire-ravaged regions in three Australian states on Monday after a horror weekend, as the government pledged $1.4 billion over two years to help recover from the devastating months-long crisis. Catastrophic bushfires have turned swathes of land into smouldering, blackened hellscapes and destroyed an area about the size of the island of Ireland, according to official figures, with authorities warning the disaster still has weeks […]

Troops deployed across fire-hit Australia after horror weekend

EDEN, Australia  (AFP) — Reserve troops were deployed to fire-ravaged regions across three Australian states on Monday after a torrid weekend that turned swathes of land into smouldering, blackened hellscapes. The bushfires have now destroyed an area the size of Ireland, according to official figures, and authorities warned the months-long crisis is not over as another heatwave looms. Firefighters joined by fresh teams from the US and Canada were taking advantage of rainy and cooler conditions to tackle out-of-control blazes ahead of soaring temperatures forecast later […]

Tropical Cyclone Blake forms over northern Australia

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A tropical cyclone formed off the northwestern coast of Australia Monday, threatening the town of Broome with destructive 125 kilometers (80 miles) per hour winds, meteorologists said. Tropical Cyclone Blake became category one storm with sustained winds of 75 kilometers (47 miles) per hour and was expected to strengthen to a category two early Tuesday when it skirts the town of 14,000 people. The Bureau of Meteorology warned residents to “prepare […]

Nearly Aus$25 mn raised as Australia reels from bushfire fury

  EDEN, Australia (AFP) — A global appeal to help Australian firefighters tackling catastrophic bushfires raised almost Aus$25 million on Sunday, as swathes of the country suffered extensive damage and the death toll from the long-running crisis hit 24. East coast seaside towns were plunged into darkness, ash rained down on rural communities and major cities were again cloaked in choking smoke, even as stunned Australians tried to regroup amid a wave of cooler air […]

Power supply fears as troops called to battle Australia bushfires

by Holly ROBERTSON / with Andrew Beatty and Glenda Kwek in Sydney Agence France-Presse BATEMANS BAY, Australia (AFP) — Skies turned black and ash rained down as fires raged across southeastern Australia on Saturday, threatening power supplies to major cities and prompting the call-up of 3,000 military reservists. Temperature records were smashed, and gale-force winds pounded fire-stricken coastal communities in the two most populous states New South Wales and Victoria. New South Wales Premier Gladys […]

Kyrgios to donate $140 for each ace to help bushfire relief

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Nick Kyrgios has pledged Aus $200 (US$140) for each ace he serves across the Australian summer of tennis to support victims of bushfires raging around the country, with the ATP Cup Friday also promising help. The temperamental Australian, a controversial figure in the sport with a bad boy reputation, has been at the forefront of rallying support among players to help. “I’m kicking off the support for those affected by the fires. […]

Military evacuates fire-hit Australian town

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — The Australian military has begun the seaborne evacuation of hundreds of people trapped in a fire-ringed southeastern town, as the country braced for more catastrophic conditions. A navy landing craft from the HMAS Choules docked in the town of Mallacoota, where residents trapped on the foreshore since New Year’s Eve clambered aboard with family, pets and a few belongings. Military aircraft have also been working with emergency crews to drop relief […]