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Wildfires Rage Across Tasmania As Australia Swelters Under Heatwave

Heat, wind, drought bring firey conditions to nation

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Wildfires continued to rage on Sunday across the Australian island state of Tasmania as large swathes of the country sizzled under heatwaves.

A bushfire smoke plume is visible from Park Beach in Forcett, south-east of Hobart, the state's capital (Photo: Jo Giuliani/EPA) The wildfires that began on Thursday have left thousands stranded, at least 100 people missing and have firefighters fearing some of the missing may have died in the fires.

BBC News reports:

Much of Australia is experiencing a heatwave, and temperatures in the Tasmanian state capital Hobart earlier reached a record high of 41C. [. . .]

The BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney says large swathes of south-east Australia are suffering from the worst fire conditions since the Black Saturday disaster almost four years ago, when 173 people in rural Victoria lost their lives.

He says there has been a combination of a record-breaking heatwave, high winds and drought, with Tasmania by far the worst hit.

Al Jazeera adds:

Bushfires are raging in many parts of Australia as the country experiences one of its most intense heatwaves in the last half century.

Some 80 percent of the country is in the grips of the heatwave, believed to have its origins in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Settled weather conditions, aided by significantly above-average water temperatures along the coast have fed exceptionally warm air across the continent.

"It's very clear that the whole of southern Australia is experiencing a quite profound change in the seasonal cycle of rainfall," Dr. Jones of Australia's Weather Bureau said.

The Guardian has video:

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