Tag Archives: Australia

Australia confirms fifth coronavirus case from last flight out of Wuhan

Australia confirms fifth coronavirus case from last flight out of WuhanAustralia confirmed on Monday its fifth case of a new coronavirus, with health officials saying the case involved a 21-year-old woman who was on the last flight out of the Chinese city of Wuhan to Sydney before China imposed a travel ban. The coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in a wildlife market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed 80 people, all of them in China, and infected more than 2,700, the vast majority in China. The woman traveled on a direct flight to Sydney from Wuhan and developed symptoms within 24 hours and went to an emergency department, New South Wales Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told reporters.



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Australia bushfires contribute to big rise in global CO2 levels: UK's Met Office

Australia bushfires contribute to big rise in global CO2 levels: UK's Met OfficeAustralia’s bushfires are contributing to one of the biggest annual increases in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere since record-keeping began more than 60 years ago, according to a forecast published by Britain’s Met Office on Friday. While human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for the bulk of the increase in CO2 levels, Australia’s bushfires have made the problem measurably worse, underscoring the impact of the catastrophe on the global climate system. “A forecast of the atmospheric concentration of carbon-dioxide shows that 2020 will witness one of the largest annual rises in concentration since measurements began at Mauna Loa, in Hawaii, 1958,” the Met Office said in a statement.



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Bodies of U.S. firefighters retrieved from crash site in Australia

Bodies of U.S. firefighters retrieved from crash site in AustraliaThe bodies of three U.S. firefighters who died in a plane crash earlier this week in Australia’s remote bushland while battling a fierce wildfire have been recovered, the police said on Saturday. “I can confirm that the bodies have been recovered,” a New South Wales Police spokesperson told Reuters in an e-mail. Coulson Aviation, the private Canadian firm that employed the trio, named them as U.S. military veterans Captain Ian H. McBeth, 44, of Great Falls, Montana, First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson, 42, of Buckeye, Arizona, and Flight Engineer Rick DeMorgan Jr., 43, of Navarre, Florida.



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Firefighting plane crashes in Australia, killing 3 Americans

Firefighting plane crashes in Australia, killing 3 AmericansThree American firefighting airplane crew members were killed Thursday when the C-130 Hercules aerial water tanker they were in crashed while battling wildfires in southeastern Australia, officials said. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed the deaths in the state’s Snowy Monaro region, which came as Australia grapples with an unprecedented fire season that has left a large swath of destruction. Canada-based Coulson Aviation said in a statement that one of its Lockheed large air tankers was lost after it left Richmond in New South Wales with retardant for a firebombing mission.



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Hail, floods, dust hit Australia amid raging wildfires

Hail, floods, dust hit Australia amid raging wildfiresDust storms, hail and flash floods have battered beleaguered Australian cities in recent days, extreme weather that has diminished the threat from scores of wildfires that continue to blaze across the country’s southeast. A hail storm in the national capital Canberra on Monday damaged public buildings, businesses, homes and cars, cut power to some suburbs, brought down trees, caused flash flooding and injured two people, emergency services officials said.



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Rainstorms douse bushfires across eastern Australia

Rainstorms douse bushfires across eastern AustraliaRain and thunderstorms doused long-burning bushfires across much of eastern Australia Saturday, but they also brought a new threat of flooding in some areas. Major bushfires continued to rage in regions of the south and southeast of the country that have so far missed out on the rain, including in wildlife-rich forests on Kangaroo Island off the southern coast. The fire service in New South Wales (NSW) state, the country’s most populous and the hardest hit by the crisis, said 75 fires continued to burn Saturday, down from well over 100 a few days earlier.



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Thousands of koalas feared dead in Australia wildfires

Thousands of koalas feared dead in Australia wildfiresThousands of koalas are feared to have died in a wildfire-ravaged area north of Sydney, further diminishing Australia's iconic marsupial, while the fire danger increased in the country’s east on Saturday as temperatures soared. The mid-northern coast of New South Wales was home to up to 28,000 koalas, but wildfires have significantly reduced their population in recent months. Koalas are native to Australia and are one of the country’s most beloved animals, but they've been under threat due to a loss of habitat.



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Australia fires: Minister says up to 30 per cent of koalas may have been lost in bushfire crisis

Australia fires: Minister says up to 30 per cent of koalas may have been lost in bushfire crisisOne of Australia’s most famous animals is now a threatened species, with the country’s bushfire crisis wiping out huge numbers of koalas. Sussan Ley, the environment minister said Friday that the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, home to a sizeable part of Australia’s koala population, may have lost 30 per cent of its koalas. In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Ms Ley said 30 per cent of koala habitat had been destroyed in the region.  She added: “We will know more when the fires are calmed down and a proper assessment can be made”. Before the fire crisis began it was estimated that up to 28,000 koalas lived in the Mid North Coast. Eight people have died in New South Wales alone, and about 3.4million hectares and almost 1,000 homes have been lost to the long-running bushfire crisis. Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia have also faced large, emergency-level fires this fire season. Australian wildfire status Early on Friday the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) issued a “very high fire danger rating” for many parts of the state. In a statement, the RFS said there were “almost 1,300 firefighters in the field. Over 70 bush and grass fires, 33 uncontained”. Late in the day, it warned that Saturday would see “widespread very high fire danger”. South Australia’s Country Fire Service (CFS) assistant chief officer Brenton Eden told The Advertiser that the state is extremely dry and the conditions and coming heatwave poses a serious threat. “We are seeing fire behaviour across SA, Victoria and NSW that we haven’t seen and experienced for a long time… These fires are now travelling immense distances and covering an enormous amount of the landscape before people are prepared either to defend their property or to get out,” he said. “Cudlee Creek has been the most classic example recently, together with Yorketown, of fires that have started from a very small ignition source… The CFS responded within minutes to them and had no capacity to bring them under control.” Mr Eden warned that the two fires that have burnt through a total of 42,300 hectares of land at Cudlee Creek in the Adelaide Hills, and in Duncan, on Kangaroo Island, would continue to burn for weeks. “It’s tinder dry and ready to burn and that’s what we’re seeing at the moment,” he said. As the crisis continues there is renewed pressure on Scott Morrison, the prime minister, to reform Australia’s firefighting services and infrastructure. Weeks after he rejected calls to transform Australia’s largely volunteer bush firefighting services into professional organisations, one of Mr Morrison’s own senior Ministers has called for change. As three large fires raged in his electorate of Gippsland, Victoria, Veterans' Affairs Minister and Nationals MP Darren Chester said this week that there is strong support among his constituents to pay volunteers when they worked for extended periods.  Veteran NSW fire fighter Brendan Hurley, writing for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, said: “I've been a firefighter for 20 years and these fires have delivered the worst conditions I've ever faced. We have been responding to bushfires since the end of September and it is fair to say that as we move further into the campaign fatigue is setting in.” And one week after the uproar over Mr Morrison's Hawaiian holiday, New South Wales Emergency Services Minister David Elliott is leaving the country for a trip to the UK and France. His office said the Minister would not cancel his trip, but in a statement Mr Elliott said he would return home, “if the bushfire situation should demand it”. Mr Morrison’s Liberal Party is also in power at a state level in New South Wales.



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Sizzling temperatures hit Australia as wildfires persist

Sizzling temperatures hit Australia as wildfires persistA code red was issued in South Australia on Friday as temperatures hit 42 degrees Celsius (108 Fahrenheit) in the state’s capital, while firefighters battling wildfires in New South Wales established containment lines in cooler conditions ahead of an expected heatwave this weekend. South Australia last week had 86 homes destroyed after wildfires flared in catastrophic conditions, as its capital Adelaide endured a heatwave peaking at a sizzling 46 C (115 F). The heatwave has prompted the South Australian government to declare a code red, which aims to ensure the homeless kept cool and hydrated.



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Australia braces for second heatwave as wildfires continue to rage

Australia braces for second heatwave as wildfires continue to rageA second heatwave is set to sweep through Australia in coming days, threatening to worsen an already dire wild fire crisis. This fire season more than four million hectares have been burnt in Australia, almost one third the size of England, destroyed nearly 1,000 houses, and has killed at least nine people, with one more missing. Over the past week South Australia endured four days of extreme heatwave conditions, pushing into the high 40s. 84 homes were destroyed since last Thursday and at least 2,700 animals killed as fires wiped out parts of the Adelaide Hills region. In New South Wales, approximately 100 homes were lost to bush fires over the weekend, but weather eased on Monday through to Wednesday, allowing firefighters time to establish desperately needed containment lines. More than 70 fires are still burning in New South Wales alone, with 30 uncontained. The last heatwave saw the record for the hottest average maximum temperature in Australia broken twice in two days, with 40.9 and 41.9 recorded back to back. In addition, record high individual site temperature set twice last Thursday, Eucla in Western Australia with 49.8C, and the South Australian Nullarbor weather station with 49.9C a few hours later. Professor David Karoly, a leading climate scientist at the CSIRO, the Australian government's scientific research agency, said the record spikes were way beyond what had been seen previously, and the cause is climate change. The fires have destroyed an area almost a third the size of England Credit: Australian Broadcasting Corporation “We're smashing the extremes by effectively a degree relative to the other cases because that's by how much the Australian temperatures have warmed,” he said. South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales are all expecting severe heat in coming days. Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Richard Russell told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the fire danger in Victoria would be very high across the entire state this weekend and was likely to be upgraded to severe on Monday when the heatwave peaked. “On Monday, temperatures are expected to reach 40 degrees across the majority of the state, and 44C in the north-west including Mildura and Swan Hill… Very little rainfall is expected and unfortunately, yet again, we are facing that dry lightning risk and are looking at potential gusty winds,” he said. Victorian officials are concerned that three large fires will worsen in the deteriorating conditions. In New South Wales, Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Rose Barr told SBS that a severe heatwave will start building over the next three days. “Between Thursday and Saturday we are starting to see severe heatwave conditions in the southern parts of the state, extending over a more significant area of New South Wales into the weekend and next week… Some areas are forecast to reach extreme heatwave conditions,” she said. “With the increasing heat and winds, the fire danger will worsen into the new week, with Monday and Tuesday most likely to be the most significant fire weather days.”



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