Melbourne suffocated in smoke while Australian forest fires burn despite cold changes

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s devastating forest fire season is far from over despite the coldest weather this week, Victorian state officials warned Tuesday when Melbourne was covered by dangerous smoke.

A thick mist of forest fires looms over Melbourne, Australia, on January 14, 2020. AAP image / David Crosling / via REUTERS

At least 180 fires continued to burn in the states of Victoria and New South Wales (NSW), although widespread rainfall is forecast for areas affected by fires on the east coast as of Wednesday.

There were still about 20 forest fires to be contained in New South Wales, the most populous state in Australia, while in Victoria five fires were in the warning “Watch and act”, a level below the state of emergency, said the authorities.

“I wish I could say that this is over, but we have a long way to go. We have smoke in our communities at the moment and it is at very poor or dangerous levels, “said Lisa Neville, Victoria’s Minister of Police and Emergency Services at a press conference.

Brett Sutton, state health director, said he believed that air quality in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, had fallen to the “worst in the world” overnight as colder temperatures brought particles into The air near the ground.

Australia is experiencing one of the most severe fire seasons in history, with forest fires that have been burning since September, killing 28 people and destroying more than 2,500 homes.

The political consequences of the unprecedented scale of forest fires have pressured the conservative government to reconsider its climate change policies.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pointed out that the government can increase its targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and was open to the establishment of a powerful investigation by the royal commission on forest fires.

The federal government said Monday that $ 50 million ($ 35 million) would be given to an emergency wildlife recovery program, describing forest fires as “an ecological disaster” that threatened several species, including koalas and wallabies. of rock.

To see a graph on how to size Australia’s forest fires, click here

Kate Lamb reports; Edition by Stephen Coates

Our Standards:The Principles trust Reuters Thomson.

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