- The two dead— father and son— were caught off guard by the flames as they tried to protect their home.
- Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the possibility of evacuating some fire-affected communities is being considered.
- Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has devoted part of his New Year's message to the "devastating impact" that fires are having on the country.
At least two people have died, five are missing, and thousands have opted for refuge on beaches due to wildfires that are devastating southeastern Australia, officials said on Tuesday. Several dozen new fire outbreaks erupted on Tuesday.
“Following the tragic death last night of a volunteer firefighter, police confirmed two deaths in Cobargo. A third person is missing,” Gladys Berijiklian, the state’s head of government, told a news conference.
The two dead— father and son— were caught off guard by the flames as they tried to protect their home. As reported by various news outlets, at least four people are missing in the state of Victoria, although authorities have not provided more information. In East Gippsland, on the border with the state of New South Wales, to which Mallacoota belongs, about 4,000 people fled to the beaches to escape the flames in one of Australia’s most visited region by tourists.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the possibility of evacuating some fire-affected communities, such as Mallacoota, is being considered, where, according to images broadcast on social media networks, a red sky and dense smoke are visible. “We’ve made some requests to the (Australian Defence Force) for their support, both in terms of making damage assessments but also some of these isolated communities can be accessed by sea,” he said.
The Worst Fire Season on Record
Eleven people have been killed since the start of this year’s Australian fire season, which has led New South Wales Rural Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons to rate it the worst fire season in memory. “We have to prepare for a considerable number of properties, houses, that were probably hit or destroyed throughout these eight fire areas, given the extraordinary nature of fire behavior on Tuesday,” he said.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has devoted part of his New Year’s message to the “devastating impact” that fires are having on the country and left a warning: the coming weeks and months will “continue to be difficult.” Morrison said, “I wish I had better news on New Year’s Eve, but the only good news is the hope that gives me the wonderful spirit that Australians have shown to have,.” He added, “we have always faced disasters like this and we have come around.”
In New South Wales, firefighters expect the state to continue to burn until it rains consistently, but in New South Wales’s capital, Sydney, the iconic New Year’s fireworks will remain. The situation in the state of Victoria has worsened in recent days, with 260 new fires reported Monday and 61 more during the early hours of Tuesday. Australian fires have devastated more than four million hectares in five states, and millions of Australian endemic fauna animals have died or are severely suffering because of the fires.