Furious Australians have branded Sydney’s firework display a ‘slap in the face’ after organisers decided to go ahead with the world-famous celebration despite wildfires raging across the country.
The multi-million dollar display lit up the night sky over Sydney Harbour on Tuesday night as thousands of locals and tourists flocked to ring in the new decade, but the joy was not shared elsewhere.
Hundreds of bushfires have destroyed dozens of homes in New South Wales and Victoria, killed at least 12 people and left another five missing in Australia’s worst summer season in decades.
Witnessing the fireworks amid the devastation, one person tweeted: ‘My parents are without power, their town is cut off, and the southerly is blowing another fire towards them. A fireworks show feels like a huge slap in the face.’
Another added: ‘Members of my family are spending tonight huddled together on a boat ramp waiting while bushfires bear down, and our PM is throwing a party.’
As the city’s famous skyline was lit up with colourful pyrotechnics, thousands remained trapped on a beach in the coastal town of Mallacoota amid apocalyptic scenes after getting surrounded by raging bushfires.
Responding to calls to cancel the event and reallocate the funding to fire-affected regions, Sydney mayor Clover Moore said planning for the fireworks began 15 months ago and most of the budget had already been allocated. The event was also a boost to New South Wales’ economy.
Moore added that people viewing the fireworks around the harbour will see a donation link projected onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons throughout the night.
Meanwhile, haunting pictures from Mallacoota show how the sky turned blood red as smoke from nearby fires shrouded the sun and reduced visibility to just a few yards.
Witnesses told how ash and embers were raining from the skies accompanied by a deafening roar from the flames, while the sound of exploding gas canisters could be heard in the distance as the fires closed in.
With emergency sirens ringing through the air, those trapped on the beach and nearby jetties said they spent the day waiting for an order to get into the ocean to stop from being burned alive. At one point the flames were reported to have got within a few hundred yards of the beach.
The Australian Defence Force said Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters will be scrambled alongside Navy boats to save stranded tourists and locals, after they refused to heed an evacuation warning that was given on Sunday.
Three people are feared dead in neighbouring New South Wales as fires rip along the coast, threatening Mogo Zoo where a team of 15 keepers are desperately trying to keep the flames from destroying paddocks including one where giraffes could be seen on Tuesday.
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Source: Daily Mail