STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Australian 'megablaze' brought under control after almost three months

New South Wales firefighters said they finally had the upper hand in the fight against the vast Gospers Mountain fire on Sydney's northwestern outskirts, which has been burning for almost 3 months.

Published: 13th January 2020 11:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th January 2020 11:18 AM   |  A+A-

Forestry Corporation worker Holly James keeps an eye on a controlled fire set to help build a containment line at a wildfire near Bodalla, Australia

Forestry Corporation worker Holly James keeps an eye on a controlled fire set to help build a containment line at a wildfire near Bodalla, Australia. (Photo | AP)

By AFP

SYDNEY: Exhausted firefighters said they had finally brought Australia's largest "megablaze" under control on Monday, as wet weather promised to deliver much-needed respite for countryside ravaged by bushfires.

New South Wales firefighters said they finally had the upper hand in the fight against the vast Gospers Mountain fire on Sydney's northwestern outskirts, which has been burning out of control for almost three months.

Visiting the area on Monday, New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said there was a "small area of burning still to complete" but the "containment prognosis looks promising."

The fire seared an area of national park three times the size of Greater London and lit several connected blazes totalling over 800,000 hectares -- an area larger than Austria.

ALSO READ | Australian bushfire crisis: Firefighter dies as country works on long-term battle plan

As residents and authorities continued to come to grips with the sheer scale of the devastation, the Bureau of Meteorology forecast some firegrounds could get up to 50 millimetres (two inches) of rain in the next week, a relief after a prolonged drought.

If that forecast bears out, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service said, "then this will be all of our Christmas, birthday, engagement, anniversary, wedding and graduation presents rolled into one. Fingers crossed."

Dozens of other fires are yet to be controlled.

The climate-change-fuelled fires have prompted an international outpouring and donations from around the world to help communities and animal populations.

Australia's unique flora and fauna has taken a catastrophic hit, with an estimated one billion animals killed, and countless trees and shrubs burned away.

The country's environment minister Sussan Ley has warned that in some areas, koalas may have to be reclassified as endangered.

ALSO READ: Serena ends three-year title drought, gives Auckland Classic prize money to Australia bushfire relief

This weekend, Sydney will host a star-studded charity gig to benefit fire services, the Red Cross and animal welfare organisations.

Headliners include Alice Cooper, Olivia Newton-John and Queen.

The political impact of the crisis is also coming into sharper relief.

A poll released on Monday showed Prime Minister Scott Morrison's approval ratings have nosedived in the face of widespread anger over his handling of the deadly crisis.

The Newspoll survey showed 59 per cent of Australian voters are dissatisfied with the conservative leader's performance overall, and only 37 per cent were satisfied, an abrupt reversal since his shock election win last May.

Morrison has been criticised heavily for his response to the months-long crisis -- which included going on holiday to Hawaii, making a series of gaffes and misleading statements about his government's actions, and forcing angry victims to shake his hand.

Morrison began the crisis insisting local authorities had enough resources to handle the fires and exhausted volunteers firefighters "want to be there".

He also repeatedly stated that Australia was doing more than enough to meet its emission reduction targets, prompting a series of large-scale street protests.

Seeing a backlash, Morrison has since deployed the military, launched the largest peacetime call up of reserves, pledged billions of dollars in aid, increased payments to firefighters, and suggested more work may need to be done on emissions.


Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

IPL_2020
flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp