Dawn of a dark new decade: Australia begins 2020 in a state of emergency and plagued by more than 100 bushfires as devastated regions struggle through power outages and the army is called in
- Australia will enter the first day of the new year in a state of emergency
- 12 people have been confirmed dead so far, with five more still unaccounted for
- Entire towns were destroyed with families forced to live in temporary shelters
Australia will enter the first day of 2020 in a state of emergency with more than 100 bushfires still burning and power outages plaguing the devastated south coast.
Military aircraft and vessels will continue to assist emergency services on Wednesday in New South Wales and Victoria.
This year’s bushfire season has claimed 12 lives, and five people are still missing.
The New South Wales town of Cobargo, where a father and son died on Monday bravely battling to defend their homes, has been leveled.
Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service Shane Fitzsimmons said there were ‘literally thousands of people taking refuge on the beaches’ after being trapped by blazes.
More than 130 fires remain burning in NSW, with five at an emergency level.
In Victoria’s East Gippsland, a popular holiday destination, 33 fires are still burning and 43 properties have been destroyed.
Mallacoota mother Allison Marion took a photo of her son (pictured) wearing a facemask in a boat on the Mallacoota lake trying to stay safe from fire
In apocalyptic scenes, families spent New Year’s Eve on the pier in Mallacoota (pictured) after being forced to flee
After a day sheltering on the beach, tourists and locals in Mallacoota spent the night sleeping in a local cinema.
Many spent New Year’s Eve on the town’s jetty and were told to be ready to get in the water at a moment’s notice to keep safe.
Those in the holiday towns of Bateman’s Bay and Bermagui also fled to evacuation centres or the beaches on Tuesday.
Army Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters were deployed to rescue thousands stranded on a beach in the fire-ravaged area.
US and Canada are understood to have been asked to provide ‘specialist aviation resources’ to help Australia’s emergency efforts.
Sydney was criticised for going ahead with its $6.5 million fireworks extravaganza, with many deeming it ‘inappropriate’ and ‘selfish’.
Thousands had signed a petition for it to be cancelled, while NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro called for funds to be redirected to drought and bushfire relief.
Dozens of homes and a school have been lost in the Victorian towns of Buchan and Sarsfield, with more people missing in the state.
Back in NSW, police confirmed that more than 46,000 living between South Nowra and Moruya had lost power.
The raging 227,000 hectare inferno affecting huge swathes of the NSW south coast has left 300 Shoalhaven residents living in the Ulladulla Civic Centre.
Nearby, the Princes Highway is still closed from Falls Creek to Milton, cutting off huge areas of the coast.
Around 30,000 tourists as well as 45,000 locals were told to leave the East Gippsland region on Sunday in what was poised to be one of the biggest mass evacuations in Australia’s history.