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Bushfires crisis in Australia Bushfires crisis in Australia   (ANSA)

Reservist troops called up to tackle Australia bushfires

Bushfires were burning out of control on Australia's east coast on Saturday, fueled by soaring temperatures and strong winds. As the situation worsens the government announces an unprecedented call up of army reservists to support firefighters.

By Lydia O’Kane

A news channel tells Australians that their country is the hottest place on earth.

Bushfires here continue to burn out of control leaving destruction in their wake and forcing thousands of people to evacuate.

Speaking to reporters, New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said Saturday was “going to be a long and difficult day for everybody,"

3000 Army reservists

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that 3000 army reservists were being called up to support firefighters as well other resources including a third navy ship equipped for disaster and humanitarian relief.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the move was unprecedented.

Authorities had been urging Australians to evacuate parts of the eastern states of Victoria and New South Wales to escape the burning bushfires.

On Saturday the first of thousands of residents and holiday makers stranded on a beach in Mallacoota in southeastern Australia landed near Melbourne after being rescued by a naval ship.

Listen to the report

Churches response

As the situation shows no signs of abating, Churches in Australia have been showing their support.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said it was extending its national prayer campaign for drought started in November, which also invites people to provide assistance to those most in need. 

“We can’t forget the many suffering through these catastrophic drought conditions, which are very much part of the bushfire crisis we are seeing in large parts of the country,” Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.

Meanwhile, the World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said that WCC member churches around the world are praying for respite from the heat and the flames”.

“Too late to leave”

Authorities say that the focus this weekend is preventing more loss of life. Updating it’s emergency warning NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) told those who had not evacuated that it was now " too late to leave" and to "seek shelter as the fire approaches."

The national death toll in the current fire season, which began in September, has risen to 23 with dozens of people still missing and around 1,500 homes destroyed.

 

04 January 2020, 12:06