In the land down under, bushfires continue to rampage with fury, forcing people to flee to the beaches and causing the sky to turn red, with no apparent end in sight.
The Australian bushfires, which began in the fall of last year — the summer season in Australia — and have since multiplied and spread, are expected to continue through the weekend and beyond with no substantial relief in sight unless significant rainfall arrives.
Photojournalists have snapped pictures in recent days with no special lenses showing the dire condition of the nation, complete with red skies and smoke-filled atmospheres. The fires, which have been plaguing the nation’s eastern coast, has necessitated residents to evacuate to the beach for safety.
Here are three things you need to know about the ongoing Australian wildfires.
23 confirmed dead since October, hundreds of homes burned
The Guardian reported on Saturday that since October, 23 people have died in bushfires on Australia’s eastern coast. Six others are presently missing and authorities have said the death toll could increase. Many of the deaths have occurred in New South Wales which has borne the brunt of the blaze.
Among the dead are volunteer firefighters in their 20s and 30s along with elderly people, some of whom died attempting to save their homes and farms. Some victims have been confirmed dead but have not yet been identified publicly.
Over 200 homes have been destroyed in the past week as a result of the latest fires, the BBC reported. Thus far this season, 916 homes have been destroyed, another 363 damaged, and 8,159 saved, according to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.
On Twitter Thursday, the hashtag #AustraliaBurning was trending.
Animal population suffering: koala bears and birds dying, kangaroos flee
According to the Huffington Post (UK) Thursday, approximately half a billion animals are feared to be dead as a result of the blazes, a statistic that includes one-third of the koala population in their native habitat in the state of New South Wales.
Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley said in a radio interview Friday that the estimated death toll is up to 8,000 of the nation’s koalas, around 30 percent of the national population of between 15,000 to 28,000.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter