Sydney: At least two people were killed and seven others reported missing due to the devastating bushfires in Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) state, authorities said on Saturday.
“Our thoughts and prayers of course go to the families and loved ones of those two deceased persons,” Xinhua news agency quoted State Premier Gladys Berejiklian as saying to the media here.
The body of the first victim was found in a vehicle near the town of Glen Innes on the state’s far North Coast.
The second victim succumbed to her extensive burn injuries later in a hospital.
“The reports were initially burns to 40 to 50 per cent of her body,” NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.
The fires, which flared up along the country’s east coast on Friday afternoon, also destroyed more than 100 homes.
Three fires were still burning at an emergency level on Saturday morning, and at the height of the disaster on Friday afternoon, a record 17 fires were given that classification.
Berejiklian said that with a number of fires still burning uncontrolled across the state, the worst may be yet to come.
“We do need to brace ourselves and what is concerning is that the forecast weather conditions on Tuesday (November 12) could mean that we’re not through the worst of it,” she added.
The fire season in Australia varies by area and weather conditions, although it usually occurs during the southern summer (between the months of December and March).
The worst fires in the Oceanic country in recent decades occurred in early February 2009 in the state of Victoria (southeast), causing 173 deaths and leaving 414 injured while burning an area of 4,500 sq.km.