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World

Australia on fire alert over rising temperatures

Sydney (Australia) / The Australian authorities once again activated its fire alert on Thursday over rising temperatures, which in some places exceeded 40 degrees Celsius.

In Sydney region, where the mercury reached 41 degrees, it is feared that severe heat conditions, strong winds and potential storms could aggravate the situation.

Strong winds in the mountains posed an increased risk of fires, said the meteorology bureau of New South Wales, the capital of which is Sydney and where 64 fires are burning, 19 of them uncontrolled.

“There’s every potential for flare-ups and new ignitions to come out of some of these fire grounds,” said NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons at a press conference.

Meanwhile, the authorities in the Australian Capital Territory, which includes Canberra, are also on alert against the danger of fires on Thursday, before temperatures begin to fall again on Friday.

Bushfires, which have been raging since September and which worsened on New Year’s Eve, have already claimed 29 lives and affected more than 1 billion animals.

The fires have razed more than 2,500 homes and 180,000 square kilometers (some 69,500 square miles) of land, an area equivalent to the size of Syria.

These fires, which experts say have been more intense this year due to global warming, have emitted so far 400 megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, an amount equivalent to the country’s average annual emissions, according to the global environment monitoring program Copernicus.

A survey by the Australia Institute published Thursday found that 57 percent of the people surveyed across the country of 24.6 million inhabitants felt the impact of fires and smoke, while 26 percent experienced health problems as a result.

The report also underlined that about 1.8 million people were unable to work because of the fires, and the loss in productivity was estimated at AU$1.3 billion ($894 million).

“Australia is in the grip of a national climate disaster. The social, economic and medical impacts are vast and only just starting to become clear,” said Tom Swann, senior researcher at the Australia Institute. (January 23, 2020, EFE/Practica Español)

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