Fire Traps More Than 4,000 on Australian Beaches
By Jude Chukwuemeka
More than 4,000 people, including residents, hundreds of tourists, and children, are trapped on beaches near the town of Mallacoota on Australia’s east coast, surrounded as raging wildfires fueled by strong winds are barreling toward them, the BBC has reported.
The situation is so bad that officials are telling them they may need to jump into the sea to save themselves.
David Jeffrey, a local business owner, told BBC News that he and other residents sheltering on an adjacent beach nearby were preparing to jump into the sea before sudden winds pushed the flames in the other direction.
“There’s a rock wall that they’ve built to keep back the sea, and that was where we were going to jump into the water if the radiant heat had hit. It looks a lot like Armageddon. It’s terrifying,” he told BBC.
The country has called for assistance from the U.S. and Canada, which are preparing to send fire crews to help fight the blazes that have burned some 10 million acres and killed more than a dozen people over the last several weeks. The fires have been fueled by extreme temperatures and strong winds coupled with a three-year drought.
It can be seen that fireworks lit up over Sydney Harbour as New Year’s celebrations rang out, despite widespread protests over fears of the pyrotechnics starting more fires amid the country’s heat and wildfire emergency.
In addition to deaths previously recorded, two are reported dead lately, while government officials also claimed that several other people are missing after they tried to escape through the fires, despite government warnings to shelter on the beaches until they can be rescued.