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Earlier in December, the smoke was so bad in Sydney that air quality measured 11 times the “hazardous” level.
Australia is facing the worst wildfires of the decade with large swathes of the country devastated since the fire season began in late July.
A total of 27 deaths and in the state of New South Wales alone, more than 2,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged.
State and federal authorities are struggling to contain the massive blazes. Persistent heat and drought, and climate change is making natural disasters go from bad to worse.
There have been fires in every Australian state, but New South Wales has been hardest hit. Blazes have torn through bushland, wooded areas, and national parks, like the Blue Mountains. Some of Australias largest cities have also been affected, including Melbourne and Sydney.
In Australian summer, hot, dry weather makes it easy for blazes to start and spread. Natural causes are to blame most of the time, like lightning strikes in drought-affected forests. Dry lightning was responsible for starting a number of fires in Victorias East Gippsland region in late December, which then traveled more than 20 kilometers in just five hours.
About half a billion animals have been affected by the fires across NSW, with millions likely dead -- and thats a conservative estimate. The number of total animals affected could be as high as one billion nationwide.
The figures for NSW include birds, reptiles, and mammals, except bats. It also excludes insects and frogs. [Excerpts from CNN News]
Dr KK Aggarwal
President CMAAO, HCFI and Past National President IMA