The blazes that continue to ravage swathes of Australia, described as “apocalyptic,” had reportedly killed a total of 25 people as of Tuesday, including 20 in the worst-affected area of New South Wales (NSW) where the still-burning fires have razed or damaged more than 2,000 homes.
On Tuesday, Daily Mail Australia reported:
At least 25 people are dead, almost 2,000 homes have been destroyed and a multi-billion dollar hole has been sunk in the economy by the devastating bushfires raging across Australia. … At least 20 people have been killed by bushfires in NSW since October, with three dead in South Australia and two in Victoria.
The arson and drought-linked fires, raging since September, have scorched an area of at least 17.3 million acres, or an area about 400 times the size of Washington, DC, Daily Mail noted, adding that the deadly incident could cost Australia’s economy $13 billion.
Entire towns have been engulfed in flames, and residents across several states have lost their homes. The heaviest structural damage occurred in NSW, the country’s most populated state, where 1,588 homes have been destroyed and over 650 damaged.
In total, more than 7.3 million hectares (17.9 million acres) have been burned across Australia’s six states — an area larger than the countries of Belgium and Denmark combined. The worst-affected state is NSW, with more than 4.9 million hectares (12.1 million acres) burned.
While several mainstream media outlets blamed the disaster solely on climate change, authorities have linked the Australian bushfires to arson and other fire-related offenses.
On Monday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that New South Wales Police have charged 183 people with fire-related offenses during the ongoing wildfire season, including 24 with arson. More arrests are expected.
Fox News pointed out:
As exhausted firefighters in Australia toil in cooler weather to shore up defenses against deadly wildfires, officials announced Monday that nearly 200 people have been charged with fire-related offenses since the catastrophic wildfire season began.
The fires, fueled by drought and the country’s hottest and driest year on record, have been raging since September, months earlier than is typical for Australia’s annual wildfire season. So far, the blazes have killed 25 people, destroyed 2,000 homes and scorched an area twice the size of the state of Maryland.
On Monday, Sky News revealed:
Raging bushfires in Australia have turned the sky bright orange over Auckland in New Zealand, more than 1,200 miles away. People have also reported their breathing has been affected by the smoke from the devastating blazes. A witness to the eerie spectacle has described it as “apocalyptic”.
Some reports claim the fires have killed up to one billion animals, calling the figure “conservative.”