More than 30,000 tourists in Australia who refused to evacuate an area east of Melbourne amid raging bushfires are now ‘trapped’ after locals warned earlier that staying would be ‘suicide’.
Hundreds of blazes are burning across Australia, which is experiencing a devastating summer bushfire season fuelled by a prolonged drought and climate change.
Hundreds of thousands were told to evacuate Victoria state’s popular East Gippsland region on Sunday amid fears soaring temperatures and gusting winds would stoke three large blazes, cutting off the last major road still open.
Emergencies chief Andrew Crisp said residents and holidaymakers still in the area faced being stranded as it was now ‘too late to leave’, with his agency warning it was ‘not possible’ to provide aid to all visitors.
The Country Fire Service’s Brenton Eden said it would be a ‘very dangerous’ day for people in the state, with lightning already sparking a number of additional blazes.
‘Winds are gusting and unfortunately this is a dry lightning front that is going to move rapidly across South Australia,’ he told national broadcaster ABC.
Conditions are also expected to deteriorate over the next two days in worst-hit New South Wales, where 100 fires were still burning on Monday morning, including more than 40 uncontained ones.