The Australian authorities decided to declare a new state of emergency Thursday that included the state of New South Wales in southeastern Australia, while residents of whole cities were invited to leave as the army entered the evacuation of those trapped in fires and saved from death.
A new state of emergency is scheduled for Friday (January 2, 2020) in the state of New South Wales, in southeastern Australia, as conditions of fierce fires are expected to hit the state on Saturday. State Prime Minister Gladys Perigeklyan said that the state of emergency would start on Friday and will continue for seven days, giving greater powers to the Commissioner of Fire Services in rural areas to fight fires. This includes forced evictions of residents, road closures and directing the police to do some tasks.
The meteorological office expects that after tomorrow, Saturday, a hot wave will cross across the continent from the west, to the southeast coast, which will cause strong winds and temperatures to reach about 45 degrees Celsius.
Tens of thousands of people fled the towns on the east coast of Australia on Thursday as forest fires approached as ships and military helicopters began rescuing thousands trapped by the fires. More than 200 fires are raging in New South Wales and Victoria in southeast Australia, fueled by high temperatures and winds, threatening several cities.
Long queues lined up outside supermarkets and petrol stations, as residents and tourists sought to obtain their needs, which led to the depletion of some basic food items such as bread and milk. More than 50 thousand people were without electricity and drinking water in some towns.
The authorities urged residents to leave several towns on the southeast coast of Australia, which is a popular tourist destination in the current summer holiday season, warning that expectations of a significant rise in temperatures during the coming days will further fuel fires.
For his part, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Sydney, "The priority today is to fight fires and evacuations and move people to safety ... There are parts in both Victoria and New South Wales that have been completely destroyed and cut off electricity and communications." Officials said Thursday that eight people have died as a result of fires in New South Wales and Victoria since Monday, while 18 are still missing.
Today, Thursday, a military ship arrived in the coastal town of Malakota, where some 4,000 residents and tourists were stranded on the beach since Monday night.
The Australian Defense Force said Thursday that five military helicopters are on their way to the southern coast to support firefighters and transport supplies such as water and gasoline. The aircraft will also be used to evacuate the wounded, elderly and young.