Two Australian states have declared a state of emergency as bushfires bring a “catastrophic” threat to heavily populated areas of the nation’s east. At least three people are dead and thousands have been displaced by three days of dangerous weather conditions in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland.
But officials say the worst danger will come on Tuesday for areas around Sydney, the nation’s largest city. More than 120 bushfires are burning across the two states. In NSW, the blazes have scorched 970,000 hectares of land and destroyed 150 houses. Nine homes have been razed in Queensland.
“Everybody has to be on alert no matter where you are and everybody has to assume the worst and we cannot allow complacency to creep in,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Monday.
NBC News reports:
The blazes were so bad that smoke and dust from them had traveled across the Tasman Sea and turned neighboring New Zealand’s skies red, the country’s media reported. Residents of Sydney, one of Australia’s largest cities, as well as Hunter Valley and Illawarra regions and the city of Shoalhaven have been told to brace for “catastrophic” fire danger Tuesday, with severe and extreme danger across large areas of the state on Tuesday.
The leader of Australian Greens party, Richard Di Natale, and the party’s climate spokesman, Adam Bandt, blamed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government for the crisis. “The PM does not have the climate emergency under control,” he said on Twitter. Morrison said Saturday that he had not considered whether the unprecedented fires scorching New South Wales and neighboring Queensland state were linked to climate change, according to the Associated Press.