Two killed as wildfires ravage Australia
TWO volunteer firefighters have died while battling wildfires ravaging Australia’s most populous state. Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and Andrew O’Dwyer, 36, were in a truck convoy fighting blazes south-west of Sydney when a tree fell and caused the vehicle to roll off the road.
The two men died at the scene while three other firefighters were injured and taken to a hospital, where they remain in a stable condition.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison – who plans to return to Australia from a family holiday today – said the two firefighters were “bravely defending their communities with an unmatched spirit and a dedication that will forever set them apart amongst our most courageous Australians”.
New South Wales declared a seven-day state of emergency on Thursday as around 2000 firefighters battled 100 wildfires across the state.
Around three million hectares of land has burnt nationwide during a torrid past few months, with six people killed and more than 800 homes destroyed.
The annual Australian fire season started early after an unusually warm and dry winter. The Bureau of Meteorology said Wednesday was the hottest day on record in Australia with an average of 41.9 Celsius, beating the landmark set a day earlier by one degree.
The situation has reignited debate over whether Australia’s government has taken enough action to tackle the climate crisis.
Protesters on Thursday camped outside Morrison’s Sydney residence demanding urgent action on climate change.
Morrison conceded last week that “climate change along with many other factors” contributed to the wildfires.