Aussie PM committing extra $2B
Government said it was willing to pay “whatever it takes” to help with recovery from the deadly fires.
SYDNEY — Australia’s government said Monday it was willing to pay “whatever it takes” to help communities recover from deadly wildfires that have ravaged the country.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government was committing an extra $1.4 billion toward the recovery effort in addition to the tens of millions of dollars that have already been promised.
“The fires are still burning. And they’ll be burning for months to come,” Morrison said. “And so that’s why I outlined today that this is an initial, an additional, investment of $2 billion. If more is needed and the cost is higher, then more will be provided.”
Morrison’s announcement of the funds, which will go toward rebuilding towns and infrastructure destroyed by the fires, came as the death toll from the disaster rose with the discovery of a body in a remote part of New South Wales. The body is believed to be that of a 71-year-old man who was last seen on New Year’s Eve moving equipment on his property on the state’s south coast, police said in a statement.
Police found the body on Monday between the property and a car, both of which had been destroyed by fire.
Another person in southern New South Wales was reported missing, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
Nationwide, at least 25 people have been killed and 2,000 homes destroyed by the blazes, which have so far scorched an area twice the size of the state of Maryland.
Rain and cooler temperatures on Monday were bringing some relief to communities battling the fires. But the rain was also making it challenging for fire crews to complete strategic burns as they tried to prepare for higher temperatures that have been forecast for later in the week.
More than 135 fires were still burning across New South Wales, including almost 70 that were not contained.