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Australia wildfires: Navy ships rescue hundreds, tens of thousands urged to flee

Christian Fernsby |
Navy ships have rescued hundreds of people from beaches and tens of thousands have been urged to flee before a predicted worsening in Australia’s already-devastating wildfires.

Topics: AUSTRALIA    FIRE   

More than 200 fires were burning, and warnings of extreme danger to come on Saturday amid more high temperatures and strong winds have set in motion one of the largest evacuations in Australian history.

Thousands have already fled at-risk coastal areas, creating traffic gridlock in places, while firefighters escorted convoys of evacuees as fires threatened to close roads.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrew declared a disaster across much of the eastern part of the state, allowing the government to order evacuations in an area with as many as 140,000 permanent residents and tens of thousands more holidaymakers.

“If you can leave, you must leave,” Mr Andrews said.

South Australia’s Country Fire Service chief officer Mark Jones said weather conditions were a cause for concern because some fires were still burning or smoldering.

“The ignition sources are already there,” he said. “There are millions of sparks out there ready to go if they break containment lines.”

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