At least seven people died and two went missing after bushfires ravaged parts of New South Wales state in Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Wednesday. Emergency services confirmed that 176 homes were destroyed in the South Coast region and the number is expected to increase.
The deceased included a father and his son, who were from Cobargo village. An unidentified 72-year-old man reportedly died at Belowra in Narooma town of New South Wales.
New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys confirmed that three more bodies were found on Wednesday – one person was found in a vehicle in the town of Sussex Inlet, another victim was found by ambulance officials in Coolagolite area, and a third body was found in a vehicle at Yatte Yattah locality. All three are yet to be identified.
A 28-year-old Rural Fire Service member Sam McPaul died on Monday close to the Victorian border when his truck turned turtle due to cyclonic fire winds.
New South Wales Transport Minister Andrew Constance said it was safe for people to leave the far South Coast region and that it should be done before the situation deteriorated. “People just have to leave,” Constance said. “If you’re tourists, get out of here before the weekend.”
The bushfires have damaged over four million hectares (10 million acres) and fires are triggered almost every day due to hot and windy conditions. Dry lightning strikes were also sparked by the fires.
“Dangerous conditions have resulted in significant property loss,” tweeted New South Wales Rural Fire Service on Wednesday. “Danger for many with conditions set to deteriorate Saturday. BIA [Building Impact Assessment] teams are working through areas, including South Coast, assessing damage. This season 916 homes destroyed, more than 16,000 buildings saved.” Firefighters also cautioned they were unable to reach a few people in remote areas due to road blockades.
A huge number of animal fatalities were expected throughout the east coast. However, firefighters and zoo officials were able to save all the 200 animals in Mogo Zoo, which houses the largest collection of primates and zebras, white rhinos. Victoria Emergency Commissioner Andrew Crisp said that a “large barge” was travelling to the town from Melbourne with food, water and 30,000 litres of fuel, BBC reported.