Death toll of animals exceeds one billion as new bushfire and evacuation warnings issued in Australia
Heartbreaking news as the government calls for another mass evacuation.
Australian authorities have urged another mass evacuation across heavily populated areas in the southeast of the country as a return of hot weather fanned huge bushfires, threatening several towns and communities.
A disaster level notice in large parts of Victoria state, already in place for the past week, has been extended by 48 hours and people in danger zones have been advised to leave if it's safe to do so.
Authorities have forecast another temperature spike as early as Friday, with little rain, meaning a return to hazardous conditions.
27 people have already died due to the fires, as the blaze has destroyed more than 10.3 million hectares (25.5 million acres) of land, an area the size of South Korea and larger than the island of Ireland.
The fires have also destroyed more than 2,000 properties and have caused thousands of people to evacuate already.
"If you receive instructions to leave, then you must leave. That is the only way to guarantee your safety. It is dangerous to be in some of these communities. We cannot guarantee your safety," said Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews.
New South Wales' state Rural Fire Services Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, said: “We are going to see some widespread severe fire danger, we are asking people to be ready."
Elsewhere, the World Wildlife Fund has said that more than 1 billion animals have already been killed directly or indirectly from the fires in Australia.
Ecologists at the University of Sydney have also estimated that 1 billion animals have been killed.
It’s been estimated that as many as 8,400 koalas have already perished in fires in New South Wales alone.
The UN World Meteorological Organisation has confirmed that smoke from the blazes has drifted as far as South America.
Australia's iconic wildlife is being hit hard by bushfires.
Over 1 billion animals have been killed. Australia needs our support. We can achieve amazing things when we come together. Here’s how you can help 👉 https://t.co/DqKl170INP
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— WWF (@WWF) January 8, 2020