Tuesday, March 31, 2020 | ePaper

Heavy rain hits Australian fires, but blazes still rage

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Pedestrians hold umbrellas as they walk in heavy rain in Sydney's CBD, Australia on Friday.

AFP, Sydney :
Heavy rain fell on bushfires in eastern Australia on Friday (Jan 17) for a second straight day, offering further relief from a months-long crisis, but dozens of blazes remained out of control.. Read more at straitstimes.com.
Following months of hot and dry weather that have fuelled the fires, Friday saw the heaviest rainfalls in nearly a decade in some areas close to hot spots.
However, 30 fires were still out of control in New South Wales on Friday, unchanged from the previous day, the fire service reported.
Fires have devastated the national park on the island, wiping out much of its koala population and threatening to completely eradicate bird and other endemic marsupial species.
Roughly a billion animals are estimated to have died in the fires nationwide.
But on Friday morning, some koalas and other native animals at the Australia Reptile Park on the east coast of New South Wales had to be rescued from floodwaters.
"We haven't seen flooding like this at the park for over 15 years."
Flash floods are another concern, with scorched mountains unable to hold the water and potentially sending torrents of muddy ash into waterways.
Their massive destruction is an example of the catastrophic impacts of climate change that the world will increasingly face, scientists have warned.
Famed British naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough warned this week the world was facing its"moment of crisis" on climate change and could not delay action any longer.
Following months of hot and dry weather that have fuelled the fires, Friday saw the heaviest rainfalls in nearly a decade in some areas close to hotspots. "Rain has fallen across most fire grounds over the last 24 hours, which is great news," said the Rural Fire Service of New South Wales, the eastern state where many of the worst blazes have raged.
"Our fingers are crossed that this continues over the coming days."
However 30 fires were still out of control in New South Wales on Friday, unchanged from the previous day, the fire service reported.
Dozens of other fires were also still burning in the southern state of Victoria.
And the rain has completely missed Kangaroo Island, the nation's third biggest off the southern coast of the mainland that is famed for its pristine wilderness.
Fires have devastated the national park on the island, wiping out much of its koala population and threatening to completely eradicate bird and other endemic marsupial species.
Still, the prospect of more wet weather across eastern and southern Australia over the coming days offered further hope.
Heavy rain is expected to continue throughout the weekend in New South Wales, expanding into other fire zones further south in the state and in Victoria.
Roughly a billion animals are estimated to have died in the fires nationwide.
With huge tracts of their habitats destroyed, environmental groups have warned the blazes could drive many species to extinction.
Much attention has focused on Australia's tree-dwelling koalas, with images of the cuddly-looking animals being rescued from wildfires making world headlines.

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