Australia fires: tens of thousands stranded while attempting to flee
By Ben Smee and Luke Henriques-Gomes
Tens of thousands of people remained stranded on Thursday evening while attempting to flee bushfire-ravaged areas of the south-east Australian coast – having earlier been urged to leave before the return of extreme and dangerous weather conditions.
The mass evacuation of communities in New South Wales and Victoria is among the largest ever emergency movements of people in Australia. The numbers fleeing the bushfire crisis remain unclear, but are expected to compare to the 60,000 people who were flown out of Darwin after Cyclone Tracy in 1974.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, urged people to be patient, as he again deflected criticism about his government’s policies to address the causes of climate change.
Authorities in Victoria hold grave fears for 17 people missing across the state, and advised anyone who could do so to leave fire-affected places in the East Gippsland region.