Fierce wildfires fuelled by searing temperatures, high winds in Australia continue to rage
Fuelled by searing temperatures and high winds, more than 200 fires are now burning across the southeastern states of New South Wales and Victoria, Australia.
A crowd of people at the beach evacuated from the bushfires at Batemans Bay
With everything burned down to ground and no connectivity, no mobile services; thousands swarmed to beaches to escape the wildfires bearing down on several seaside towns, as the government readied naval vessels and military helicopters to aid firefighting and evacuations.
Around 4,000 people in the town of Mallacoota in Victoria headed to the waterfront after the main road was cut off.
Those who could not make it there, scrambled for shelter in a gymnasium and other public buildings, as emergency sirens wailed.
The sky glows red as bushfires continue
Threatening several towns and snapping their power, mobile and internet links, the bushfires continue its rage in southeastern states of Australia.
The windy conditions and rising temperatures led to more than 200 new blazes across the bushlands causing the atmosphere envelope to appear and glow as monochromatic 'red'.
A burnt-out vehicle at a destroyed property in Sarsfield
At least 15 people are now believed to have died, while scores of people remain missing after weeks of fires that have ripped through Australia's east coast, much of which is tinder-dry after three years of drought.
The body of a man was found in a burnt car on the south coast after emergency workers began reaching the most damaged areas, and police said the death toll will rise.
"It is hell on earth. It is the worst anybody's ever seen," Michelle Roberts told media over telephone from the Croajingolong Cafe, she owns in Mallacoota.
A view of an explosion after bushfires
More than 50,000 people were without power and some towns had no access to drinking water, after catastrophic fires ripped through the region over the past few days, sending the sky blood red and destroying towns.
"The priority today is fighting fires and evacuating, getting people to safety," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a media statement.
An aerial view of Bairnsdale
Eight people have been killed by wildfires in the eastern states of New South Wales and Victoria and 18 are still missing.
"It is going to be a very dangerous day. It's going to be a very difficult day," NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged those waiting for help and those stuck in traffic jams "to be patient ... help will arrive."
PM Morrison said the fires will burn for "many, many months ... unlike a flood, where the water will recede, in a fire like this, it goes on and it will continue to go on ... until we can get some decent rain."
An aerial view of Bairnsdale
Authorities urged a mass exodus from several towns on Australia's southeast coast, an area hugely popular in the current summer peak holiday season, warning that extreme heat forecast for the weekend will further stoke raging fires.
PM Morrison visited volunteer firefighters in the NSW town on Bega and the leader plans to tour stricken regions in Victoria next week.