Australia bushfires: State of emergency declared

Two Australian states have declared a state of emergency as bushfires bring a "catastrophic" threat

Tags: Australia
Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Firefighters (stock)
Firefighters (stock)

At least three people are dead and thousands have been displaced by three days of dangerous weather conditions in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland.

But officials say the worst danger will come on Tuesday for areas around Sydney, the nation's largest city.

More than 120 bushfires are burning across the two states. In NSW, the blazes have scorched 970,000 hectares of land and destroyed 150 houses. Nine homes have been razed in Queensland.

Australia's conservative government has refused to be drawn on whether climate change could have contributed to the fires, in a response that has drawn criticism. "My only thoughts today are with those who have lost their lives and their families," said Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday.

Temperatures are expected to reach 37 degrees Celsius (98.5 F) by Tuesday. Conditions are predicted to be worse than on Friday, when the firestorms began tearing through eastern Australia. "Under these conditions, these fires will spread quickly and threaten homes and lives," NSW Rural Fire Service said in a statement.

The danger is currently less severe in Queensland, but officials there say conditions could deteriorate later in the week.