Australia bushfires: 3 Americans killed as firefighting plane crashes

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 23, 2020, 05.14 PM(IST)

File photo of Australia bushfires. Photograph:( Reuters )

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So far, the cause of the crash is not known, authorities have launched an investigation to gather more details.

Three American firefighters were killed in a plane crash while battling bushfires in Australia that are continuing to devastate the country.

The crew members lost their lives after a Canadian-owned water-bombing plane crashed during a sortie in a mountainous region. Three people were onboard the plane when it crashed.

So far, the cause of the crash is not known, authorities have launched an investigation to gather more details.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has sent an investigation team to the crash site to collect evidence and review weather information.

However, earlier in the day, New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons had said that high winds were making flying the water tankers "very difficult". The crash occurred as at least seven fires, whipped up by scorching temperatures and strong winds, flared to emergency status following a brief lull brought by rain and cooler temperatures.

Also read: After bushfires, unprecedented rain floods parts of Australian east coast

After the Thursday's incident, the death toll in Australia's bushfires rose to at least 32 with no relief in sight. The bushfires started ravaging the country in September last year.

Watch | Thunderstorm unleashes hail in Australia, no refuge after bushfires

Temperatures soared to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in Sydney, where a bushfire also broke out in a northwestern suburb of Australia's biggest city.

Unprecedented bushfires fuelled by climate change have devastated vast swathes of the country since September, destroying more than 2,000 homes and burning 10 million hectares (100,000 square kilometres) of land -- an area larger than South Korea or Portugal.

Scientists estimate that one billion animals have died in fires, which environmental groups say have driven many species closer to extinction.

The blazes have been followed by extreme weather that has hampered clean-up operations in some areas, including intense storms that have battered parts of Australia with giant hail, floods and landslides.

Heavy rainfall has helped to contain and, in some cases, extinguish long-running blazes but an expected return to searing heat and gusting winds Thursday was flagged as a cause for concern as dozens of fires continued to burn.

Meanwhile, cooler weather was forecast to return on Friday, but the bushfire season still has weeks left to run, according to forecasters.

(With inputs from news agenices)