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Australia braces as wildfires rage, temperatures soar

[ 2013-01-08 12:36] 来源:中国日报网     字号 [] [] []  
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Australians were bracing on Monday for what officials warned could be the worst day of fire danger ever seen in the country, as police searched for about 100 people still missing in ravaged Tasmania.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard urged Australians to be vigilant in coming days, with scorching temperatures predicted in several states and hundreds of blazes raging.

The danger was most acute in New South Wales, the country's most populous state, with the mercury expected to hit 43 C in Sydney on Tuesday.

New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell sounded a grim warning about the forecast record heat and high winds, with a large amount of grass and vegetation ripe for burning due to bumper spring rains.

"Tomorrow (Tuesday) is not going to be just another ordinary day," O'Farrell said. "It will be, perhaps, the worst fire danger day this state has ever faced."

Thousands of firefighters and about 70 aircraft were on standby, with some 90 blazes already burning - 20 out of control - and catastrophic conditions forecast for regions south of Sydney.

Extreme conditions were also expected in Victoria on Tuesday, with fires already burning there.

Some 13 million of Australia's 23 million people live in Victoria and New South Wales.

Gillard on Monday toured the worst-hit Tasman Peninsula, where more than 100 buildings were destroyed in a 19,000-hectare fire.

In Hobart, the air filled with the smell of smoke, while smoke could be seen at several points on the outskirts. Strong winds in the island state were making it difficult for firefighters to contain the bushfires.

Wildfires destroyed more than 100 homes in Tasmania over the weekend and police are hunting for about 100 missing people.

No bodies were uncovered during searches of the worst-hit areas. Two hundred and forty-five properties were examined, including 90 badly damaged or destroyed buildings.

Police said initial investigations of the Tasmanian fires suggested they started accidentally.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Australia braces as wildfires rage, temperatures soar

About the broadcaster:

Australia braces as wildfires rage, temperatures soar

Emily Cheng is an editor at China Daily. She was born in Sydney, Australia and graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Media, English Literature and Politics. She has worked in the media industry since starting university and this is the third time she has settled abroad - she interned with a magazine in Hong Kong 2007 and studied at the University of Leeds in 2009.