Sydney: (HRNW) Thousands of tourists have been given less than 48 hours to evacuate fire-ravaged coastal communities as Australia braces for a weekend heatwave expected to fan deadly bushfires.
Catastrophic blazes ripped through the country’s south-east on New Year’s Eve, killing at least eight people and stranding holidaymakers.
The New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service on Thursday morning declared a “tourist leave zone” stretching about 200 kilometres from the popular holiday spot of Bateman’s Bay along the picturesque coast to neighbouring Victoria state, where people are also being urged to flee.
At least 18 people are now known to have died in one of Australia’s most devastating bushfire seasons yet, and there are growing fears the toll could rise dramatically, with officials in Victoria saying 17 people were missing in the state.
Visitors are being warned to leave affected areas before Saturday, when another heatwave is expected to sweep across the country, with gusting winds and temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius.