Australia declares state of emergency amid heatwave

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A state of emergency has been declared in New South Wales, Australia, amid fears a record-breaking heatwave will exacerbate the state’s bushfire crisis.

The nation endured its hottest-ever day on Tuesday, but that record was smashed again on Wednesday which saw an average maximum of 41.9C (107.4F).

Tuesday’s 40.9C had eclipsed the previous record of 40.3C, set in 2013.

Authorities in New South Wales NSW are currently fighting about 100 fires, in a crisis that has lasted months.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a seven-day state of emergency due to forecasts of worsening conditions.

“The biggest concern over the next few days is the unpredictability, with extreme wind conditions and extremely hot temperatures,” she said.

Parts of NSW, of which Sydney is the capital, hit temperatures in the early 40s on Thursday. More intense heat was forecast for the rest of the week.

A state of emergency gives fire authorities additional powers to cope with the crisis. It is the second of such declaration in NSW since last month.

The Bureau of Meteorology BOM said individual December temperature records had been broken in a number of places with temperatures in the southern city of Adelaide hitting 45.3C.

Nullarbor, also in southern Australia, reached the scorching temperature of 49.9C

Casualties
Bushfires have been raging in Australia for months, killing six people, destroying hundreds of homes and burning millions of hectares of land.

The crisis, worsened by tinder-dry conditions from a severe drought, has spurred criticism of the nation’s climate policies.

A lot of outrage on social media has also been directed at Prime Minister Scott Morrison for going on an overseas holiday during the emergency.

According to local media, he is in Hawaii with his family. Some 500 people on Thursday protested outside his Sydney residence, demanding action on climate change.

In one widely shared tweet, the model who in 2006 became the face of the famous Australian tourism campaign slogan “Where the bloody hell are you?” directed the phrase at Mr Morrison.

 

Nneka Ukachukwu